Nov. 30, 2012
PROVO, Utah - Arizona State volleyball (20-14) lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 3-2, at the hands of Oklahoma (22-10) on Friday in Smith Fieldhouse. The Sun Devils fell in five sets with scores of 25-20, 19-25, 17-25, 25-19, 13-15.
Four Sun Devils finished the match in double-digit kills with Erica Wilson and Macey Gardner leading the way with 15 - Gardner also recorded a person best of five block assists. Whitney Follette posted 14 and Alexis Pinson had 10 of her own and a team-best eight blocks. Setter Allison Palmer posted her 10th double-double with 52 assists and 12 digs.
Arizona State came out strong after taking a 9-4 start to force Oklahoma into its first timeout. A seven-point run, 11-4, built momentum for when the Sun Devils stretched their lead to 17-10 after an Erica Wilson kill. The Sooners called their second timeout after an ace by Macey Gardner and ASU led by 22-15. Alexis Pinson and Wilson closed out the frame on a pair of kills to take the set lead, 25-20.
In the second set, Oklahoma held the advantage from the start with ASU coming close at 5-8. Arizona State continued to trail at 7-13 but with a 7-3 run the Sun Devils shook up the OU offense to come within three, 13-16. OU held its cushion the remainder of the set, tying it 1-1 after taking the frame 19-25.
ASU started the third frame hitting just .065 but stayed within reach of the Sooners who led 5-12 before a 7-2 scoring run helped the Devils come back 12-14. Keeping it close and still working from behind by the 17-20 mark, ASU could not move past OU in the frame, falling 17-25.
Freshman Whitney Follette got things started in the fourth with the first kill and to tie it at 3-3. Behind consecutive block assists by Nora Tuioti-Mariner and Pinson, ASU grabbed a three-point lead, 9-6, and send OU into a timeout. The Sun Devils had another short run spurred by a block solo by Allison Palmer, 14-12, that jumpstarted a lead that grew to 19-15.
Palmer, a freshman setter, would finish the night with 52 assists, a tally that gives her the title of ASU's single-season assist leader and freshman assist record holder with 1482.
Follette continued to pace the offense late in the frame, boosting ASU to 21-17 and then 23-18 before back-to-back OU miscues led to a fifth and final set, 25-19.
The Sun Devils started the deciding set tying it 1-1 and 2-2 but started to trail early, 2-5. The teams would go on to tie it at 6, 7, 8 and 9-all. Pac-12 All-Conference and All-Freshman Gardner went off for three-straight kills to pull the advantage to ASU, 11-9. The Sooners responded to tied it at 11-11 and then take a lead 11-12 to force Arizona State into its second timeout. ASU fought to the end but eventually fell 13-15.
ASU In the NCAA Tournament
ASU now has had 16 appearances in the NCAA Tournament for an 8-16 record after the loss against Oklahoma. ASU has reached the postseason with five coaches since the NCAA's inception - Watson being the fifth.
Jason Watson has been to the NCAA tournament four times in his career. He is 4-4 in that time.
ASU's last win in the NCAA Tournament was a 3-1 victory over College of Charleston on Nov. 30, 2006.
Allison Palmer is now Arizona State's single-season leader in assists with 1482. Her mark also rewrites the freshman season assist record, previously held by Cheryl Anglin, set in 2000 with 1452 assists.
Macey Gardner finishes her freshman campaign second in ASU single-season kills (577) which is also the freshman season record. She also owns the freshman record in kills per set (4.40) and tied for the most kills in a match by a freshman with 28.
Alexis Pinson finishes the year with 121 block assists, fourth in single-season marks.
Erica Wilson ends her career with 522 kills her senior season, fifth in SS marks, 12th in total kills (1125), fourth in block assists (297) and eighth in total blocks (325).
Stephanie Preach finished just above her 2011 dig mark, ranking fourth with 619. She is fourth all-time in digs with 1460.
Palmer finished the season with 10 double-doubles, her final coming against Oklahoma with 52 assists and 12 digs. Gardner also had 10 double-doubles on the year while Nora Tuioti-Mariner tallied four.
The 2012 team was just 57 assists shy of tying the program's season assist record of 1765 (had 1708).
ASU's 20 wins in 2012 is the most under Jason Watson.
This is the most victories (20) for the program since it went 20-8 in 1993 under Patti Snyder-Park. That team went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.