Sept. 1, 2012
LOS ANGELES - Volleyball edged past Loyola Marymount (3-2) in the final match of the UCI/LMU Dual Classic on Saturday afternoon. With a match score of 25-27, 25-23, 25-21, 25-18 the Sun Devils improve to a 6-0 record, its best start since 1997.
Despite dropping the first set 25-27, ASU rallied in its most hard fought set of the season in the second to take the frame 25-23. Trailing until the 22-22 mark, timely blocks lifted the Sun Devil club to tie it 1-1 heading into the break. Déjà vu was in store for the third, as ASU trailed throughout before overcoming to take it 25-21. In the fourth, momentum carried the Devils, who never relinquished the lead, to take the set 25-18 and match 3-1.
Using one of its youngest starting lineups yet, Arizona State opened the match with back-to-back kills from Macey Gardner and Whitney Follette. Though the team led early, ASU trailed for 11 points until a soft kill by Erica Wilson caught the Lions off guard allowing the maroon and gold to tie it 16-all just one point later.
A pair of Sun Devil blocks and a kill by Gardner got the team back in it at 21-21. ASU then started a 6-2 run as Gardner added three kills to give ASU the score, 23-22. Three ties ensued before the Lions grabbed the final two kills from Kathleen Luft to take the set 25-27.
The Lions would be in control of the second set, jumping out to a 1-6 lead and forcing the Sun Devils into a timeout. Nora Tuioti-Mariner later slammed down two, cutting the damage to 13-16. Behind a kill from Alexis Pinson and consecutive service aces by Allison Palmer threatened the Lion lead, forcing them into a timeout, 19-21.
Timely block assists by Gardner and Pinson followed by Pinson and Tuioti-Mariner made it 22-all. Gardner then threw down a kill to allow ASU its first lead, 23-22. A final block assist by Gardner and Pinson was all the Devils needed to capture the set 25-23.
LMU answered in the third, opening the frame with a six point edge, 6-12. Behind Pinson's defense and pair of kills, ASU was able to rally back to 14-17. Pinson tallied three of her 10 blocks on the day in the third frame.
Wilson was lights out after Gardner tied it 18-18, tallying three kills in the home stretch to see ASU through to a 25-21 win.
ASU found breathing room in its biggest lead, opening the fourth ahead 7-3. While extending the 17-11 lead, LMU's head coach received a yellow card after a long rally gave the Sun Devils a six-point cushion. A .429 hitting percentage accounted for ASU's romp of the final set, closing the match 3-1 on the 25-18 set score.
Alexis Pinson recorded a season-high 10 block assists. Preach had a season-high 27 digs. Gardner posted her third double-double of the season with 22 kills and 11 digs. The team is off to a 6-0 start, its best start since 1997. ASU has won all three matches where it has dropped the first set (vs. Idaho State 3-2; at UTEP 3-1; at LMU 3-1).
The Sun Devil volleyball team is off to the University of Kansas Jayhawk Invitational next weekend starting Sept. 7. ASU will face Wyoming, Kansas and College of Charleston. For game times click here, for tournament information click here.