TEMPE, Ariz. – Macey Gardner and BreElle Bailey combined for 24 kills to lead No. 16 Arizona State to a 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 26-24) victory over Arizona to open Pac-12 play on Tuesday night inside Wells Fargo Arena.
Arizona State improved to 12-1 (1-0 Pac-12) on the season as its defense held Arizona to just .103 hitting for the night. The Wildcats fell to 10-3 (0-1 Pac-12) on the year. The Sun Devils out-dug the Cats, 50-37 on the night, led by Bianca Arellano's match-high 15 digs.
Madi Kingdon, the reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, finished with a match-high 14 kills to go with eight digs, three blocks and two services aces, but she was held to just a .022 hitting percentage. Penina Snuka dished out 27 assists with two kills, while Candace Nicholson had a team-high 14 digs.
The Wildcats settled down after ASU won the first three points of the match. Arizona chipped away to tie the score on several occasions and it even took a one point lead at 12-11 after a kill by Kingdon. The set went back and forth until the Sun Devils broke an 18-18 tie with two consecutive points for the 20-18 advantage. The Wildcats cut the lead to one on two occasions but they were hurt at the end of the set by a pair of service errors and ASU went on to win the frame, 25-22. Kingdon kept the Wildcats in it with five kills. ASU hit a solid .270, while Arizona put up a .135 hitting percentage.
The second set was filled with several significant runs by each team. For the second straight set, ASU jumped out to the quick 3-0 lead. The Wildcats battled back to take a 10-8 lead after running off five consecutive points. The Sun Devils answered with a 5-0 run just a couple points later to regain a 15-11 advantage. Arizona answered right back with another 5-0 run to tie the score 17-17. ASU won the next three points to take a 20-17 lead and the Wildcats were could only cut the lead to two. The Sun Devils went on to take the set, 25-21. After a slow start, ASU hit a solid .263, while Arizona hit just .091 for the set. Kingdon led the way for the Cats once again with four kills, while Nicholson paced the Arizona defense with seven digs.
Arizona started strong in the third set as the Cats took a 14-8 lead. ASU battled all the way back to tie the score and eventually take the lead, but with the score tied 19-19, Arizona won the next two points to take a 21-19 lead. The Wildcats maintained the two point lead and earned set point with the score 24-22, but ASU reeled off the next four points to win the set and match.