Arizona State had not won a single Pac-12 match.
But that didn’t make the team an easy opponent for UCLA women’s volleyball.
The No. 13 Bruins (11-4, 4-2 Pac-12) defeated the Sun Devils (10-7, 0-5) in four close sets, with 33 combined service and kill errors.
“You’ve got to be able to win matches and you’ve got to be able to win them ugly,” said coach Michael Sealy. “We let Arizona State be the aggressors for a lot of the match and it wasn’t the best executed.”
UCLA passed consistently in set one, allowing senior setter Sarah Sponcil to run a diverse offense. The Bruins hit .588 to win the set, led by freshman pin hitter Jenny Mosser with five kills and junior middle Kyra Rogers with four.
Sponcil, who recorded a total of 48 assists and four kills, said there was still room for improvement in the opening set.
“We’re not going to be perfect every night,” Sponcil said. “We just battled it out and played each point the way it needed to be played.”
The Sun Devils came out with more aggression in the second set, maintaining the lead from the start. Defensive adjustments of stopping the Bruins tip, as well as a strong offensive performance from Sun Devil middle blocker Oluoma Okaro, led ASU to take the set.
Frequent service errors and not adjusting to the dominant hitters, Sealy said, were weaknesses for the Bruins.
“They forced us to be reactive to what they were doing and started playing like they were the better team,” Sealy said. “They took it to us a little bit.”
There were nine ties early in set three, but a UCLA run led by kills from Mosser and freshman hitter Mac May led the Bruins to a set victory.
“We knew that we needed to take control,” Mosser said. “We really let ASU set the tone and the pace for the second set and we needed to come out and play our hardest right away.”
Mosser posted a total of 13 kills and two blocks on the night.
The Bruins built momentum in set four after winning an early challenge call in the set. Arizona State tied it up, but UCLA pulled ahead at the end.
The Bruins have continued to see tough competition from every conference opponent, regardless of their ranking.
“Anything can happen in the Pac-12,” Mosser said. “You can’t take any team lightly and have to be ready for anything.”