TEMPE, Ariz.- The Arizona State volleyball team (13-3, 2-1) took another step closer towards the upper echelon of the Pacific-12 Conference, sweeping California, 25-17, 25-19, 25-14, Friday night, with 20 kills coming from freshman Macey Gardner.
California fell to 7-6 (1-2 Pacific-12) and has already fell out of the national rankings for the first time since 2002. The 2010 national finalists began the season No. 17.
“Before the match this time, we took a look at film and the other team’s tendencies,” Gardner said, “and during the match, the all came true. We knew where their hitters were hitting, where our blocks needed to be and where our defence needed to line up, and it all fell into place tonight. We played really well.”
The Sun Devils zipped through the first set, never looking back after the first few points, holding Cal to a .118 attack percentage. The second set was more balanced, but ASU still kept an early lead. California went up 9-8 before ASU’s Alexis Pinson spiked a bullet that implemented five straight for the Sun Devils. Cal coach Rich Feller called a timeout, and with the set locked at 15-15, ASU talked it over and rolled to a 10-4 finish.
“We received and served well, and it allowed us to do some things offensively,” ASU coach Jason Watson said. “It put some pressure on their block, and credit to the passing, (libero) Stephanie Preach was really good tonight.”
The third set was tied 6-6, before the Sun Devils went for the finish line on a 19-8 run, killing 21-of-32 for 59.4 percent.
Senior Erica Wilson also killed 12 for ASU, while freshman Whitney Follette had eight and fellow rookie Allison Palmer collected 43 assists.
Christina Higgins and Adrienne Gehan shared for the Golden Bear lead with eight kills, and Joan Caloiaro assisted 29.
The Sun Devils are back in action at 6 p.m. Sunday at Wells Fargo Arena to take on No. 7 Stanford, while the Golden Bears are at Arizona at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The Cardinal is a commanding 59-5 all-time versus ASU, and the Sun Devils haven’t owned a victory since Sept. 30, 2000.
“It doesn’t get any easier, but I certainly feel that we’ve got more in us,” Watson said. “I certainly feel that we can be a little better with some things, especially defensively.”
Stanford won a close match at Arizona, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 25-18, Friday night.
In other news, freshman Tommi Goodman scored in the double overtime as the Arizona State soccer team defeated USC, 5-4, Friday. ASU freshman Cali Farquharson recorded a hat trick – the first Sun Devil rookie since 2000 to do so- as well, and the team will host No. 3 UCLA, 2-1 winners at Arizona Friday, at 7 p.m. Monday.