Territorial Cup: Volleyball sends seniors off with 3-1 win over Arizona
Arizona State volleyball (20-13, 9-11 Pac-12), defeated in-state rival Arizona (16-15, 8-12 Pac-12) on senior night in Wells Fargo Arena in set scores of 13-25, 25-17, 27-25, 25-19, redeeming one half of the Territorial Cup bragging rights.
Arizona State improved its home record against the Wildcats to 24-15 all-time at home dating back to 1973. Behind a big offensive night by senior Erica Wilson's 17 kills, Macey Gardner's 14 and Whitney Follette's 10 kills, ASU extends its winning streak to three.Allison Palmer posted 50 assists on the night and Stephanie Preach had 17 digs to aid a defense that tallied 10 blocks, led by Alexis Pinson's eight.
Arizona got off to a quick start in the first set and while the Sun Devils were able to chip away at the lead, the Wildcats brought home set number one, 25-13. However, the momentum of the night quickly shifted once Macey Gardner got swinging and a tense rivalry match-up took place with both teams needing the victory to keep postseason hopes alive.
In the second set, ASU seemed to find their rhythm trading point for point with Arizona up to 12-all. Behind the serve of Stephanie Preach, ASU recorded six straight points, capped off by a service ace by Preach to go up 19-12. Gardner went on to notch five kills to help the Sun Devils take the frame, 25-7.
In the third set, Gardner moved up to second on Arizona State's single-season kills list, surpassing 555 kills to end the night with 562. The standing single-season record is held by Amanda Burbridge with 599.
In a heated third, ASU and Arizona went point-for-point in a tense showdown that saw the Sun Devils taking the set 27-25. The stanza stayed tight through 20-20 but back-to-back points for ASU at 22-20 gave the Sun Devils a push they needed to hold on in the final points.
The fourth and final set provided the crowd of 1,425 with much to sit on the edge of their seats. ASU trailed 7-9 to start but took control soon after to lead 12-10 and then at 18-18 used timely kills from senior Erica Wilson to build a cushion, 21-18. Blocking also proved essential to ASU, a final block assist from Alexis Pinson and Nora Tuioti-Mariner gave the Devils match point with 25-19 following right after.
The Sun Devils will find out if they've punched their ticket to the postseason this Sunday at 2 p.m. MT on ESPNU.
The last time ASU went to the NCAA Tournament was 2006 under then coach Brad Saindon. ASU has had 15 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, for an 8-15 record and has reached the postseason with four coaches since the NCAA's inception - Watson would be the fifth.
Jason Watson has been to the NCAA tournament three times, all with BYU. He is 4-3 in that time - his most recent a 3-1 showing in 2007 after making it to the second round to be ousted by eventual champion No. 1 Penn State on Dec. 1, 2007.
ASU's 20 wins in 2012 is the most under Jason Watson.
This is the most victories for the program since it went 20-8 in 1993 under Patti Snyder-Park. That team went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
This is the most conference wins for ASU since 2000, that team finished 9-9 in the Pac-10 with Patti Snyder-Park.
ASU finishes the regular season with two wins against ranked teams: No. 6 USC, W 3-0 Nov. 2; No. 5 Washington, W 3-1 Nov. 21.
Jason Watson has grabbed seven wins against ranked opponents in his five years at ASU. The most wins vs. ranked teams in a single season under Watson was 2010, with three.
Erica Wilson ranks 12th in career kills with 1110.
Stephanie Preach is tied for fourth at ASU in career digs with 1439. She also jumps to sixth in single-season digs with 598.
Macey Gardner is second in single-season kills with 562 - which is also the freshman record, previously set in 1992 by All-American Christine Garner with 475. She also owns the freshman record for kills/set with 4.49.
Allison Palmer has 1430 assists which ranks fourth in single-season marks.
Alexis Pinson is fifth in single-season block assists with 113.