Arizona State, UCLA women’s volleyball’s Friday opponent, is one of two Pac-12 teams that has yet to win a conference match.
“You can’t worry about schedules in the Pac-12 – everybody is just too good,” said coach Michael Sealy. “Even if a team doesn’t have a lot of wins in their path, they’re physical enough to be really dangerous.”
The No. 13 Bruins (10-4, 3-2 Pac-12), fresh off their 3-0 win against the Arizona Wildcats, are set to play the unranked Sun Devils (10-6, 0-4) on Friday.
This season, Arizona State has been swept in three out of its four league games, including by Arizona. The only two sets the Sun Devils have won in conference play were against the No. 7 Washington Huskies, a team that took down the Bruins 3-1.
UCLA has come out victorious in its past four meetings with Arizona State, including three sweeps and lead the all-time series against the Sun Devils 71-10.
Arizona State middle blocker Oluoma Okaro recorded a career-high 30 kills for a .414 hitting percentage against Washington and now holds the season-best mark for kills in the Pac-12, surpassing Stanford’s Kathryn Plummer’s 27 kills from Sept. 1.
“We’ll look at her hitting tendencies and really try to shut her down on Friday,” said sophomore middle blocker Madeleine Gates.
Sealy said that while UCLA definitely has to be aware of where Okaro is at at all times, Arizona State has four other great hitters.
“They’re a good team and kind of new too, so they’re just putting their personnel on the floor and figuring out what they do well,” Sealy said.
Sun Devil libero Halle Harker garnered Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors, compiling 61 digs and 18 assists to help propel her team to a 3-0 win at UT Arlington and recording 23 digs in its 3-1 defeat of Houston Baptist for the week of Sept. 18.
Freshman opposite Mac May said she hopes to improve on her blocking and making her moves bigger against Arizona State while continuing to be aggressive in serving.
In addition, Gates hopes that the team continues to keep errors low against Arizona State and expressed a cautious confidence to its next matchup.
“They’re definitely a scrappy team with a lot of heart, so it’s not going to be an easy win,” Gates said. “But I feel that if we’re able to execute on our side of the net we’re in a good place for Friday.”