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Sun Devils Complete the Comeback Against the Wildcats to Win 3-2

Mar 7, 2021

Final Box | 2020-21 Territorial Cup Series® Standings | Boxscore

TEMPE, Ariz. – Down 2-0, Sun Devil Volleyball came roaring back to complete the reverse sweep and beat the Arizona Wildcats in five sets (26-28, 12-25, 25-16, 25-22, 15-10) in Desert Financial Arena on Sunday.
Notable Stats

  • Arizona State (2-10) earned half of the Territorial Cup point with this win over Arizona (5-9). This win snapped a 10-match losing streak, putting the Sun Devils back on track. This is also the first five-set win of the season.
  • The all-time series record between these two teams is now 53-53 after splitting this season series.
  • Sophomore setter Shannon Shields came in to start as the setter in the second set, notching 33 assists, the highest she has had as a Sun Devil. She also had two kills and seven digs.
  • Three Sun Devils reached double figures in kills. Freshman Marta Levinska had 16 on a .371 clip, as well as five blocks and six digs. Sophomore Iman Isanovic had 15 kills with three aces. Finally, freshman Roberta Rabelo had 10 kills, her second time in double figures this season.
  • Sophomore libero Annika Larson had a team-high 16 digs in the match, as well as a career-high seven assists and one ace.
  • Junior Paige Denton was on fire from the service line, collecting four aces, a new career high. She also added eight digs in the win.
  • Continuing to be a threat at the net, sophomore Kennedi Boyd had a match-high six blocks in the win.

Arizona State Head Coach Sanja Tomasevic

On the team's victory
"What an amazing feeling and what an amazing team to do it against. I'm pretty proud of the group and how we played. Most importantly, I'm proud of Shannon Shields and how she came in and worked really hard. The last couple of weeks she has been doing really well at practices and I'm not shocked that she had the performance that she did. It was super fun and I'm fired up for our girls. One staple for this team is that even when they are losing, they don't quit and that's super exciting with a young group."

On the team's mentality after dropping the first two sets
"I talked to them before the third set and we knew serve and serve receive were important and that it was where we needed to focus. I asked them to serve a little differently and make them move. I asked them to execute and do what they needed to do on blocking. It was a really cool thing to see that they were able to make that adjustment even though we were down two sets. I talked to them before the game about having short term memory loss, forgetting about what happened earlier and moving onto the next play. I really want us to treat every play that way, because if you hold onto anything during the game you are going to get slapped and you don't want that. We talked a lot about serve and serve receive and in the last three sets we definitely won that battle."

On the future of the Territorial Cup Series
"I think it's going to be exciting moving forward over the next four years. They've got a young team and so do we. I'm looking forward to this rivalry and these girls getting fired up. I heard a little bit of backtalk from their side and some of our girls responded to that today. It was kind of interesting to see those young players fired up. If they can make it fun while they are competing, that's what this is all about."

On the teams serving strategy
"When we missed serves in the first two sets, they weren't good misses. They weren't the type of serves that we work on in practice. Finally, we were able to hit those good serves in the game. We talked and during practice you have to put yourself in a game like situation. I think Paige did a great job serving and so did Megan (Beedie). Alasia (Ureña) also did a great job coming off the bench and hitting her serve. I was really proud of the pressure that we put on them with our serve. This was also the best passing game we've had all year."

On freshman Roberta Rabelo
"One person that we need to mention is Roberta Rabelo. She got cleared to participate January 12th. She never passed in her life because she was playing opposite before she came to ASU. She got put into a position where she had to be one of our primary passers in three rotations. For her to score 10 points and take that big swing to end the fifth set, it was a really good job by her. She's a freshman that is doing something she's never done before and that's super important for us to acknowledge."

Freshman Outside Hitter Marta Levinska
On getting the win
"I think we just believed in each other and we knew that we could win. We lost two days ago, but we knew that it was our game we needed to win. We just went into it with the mindset that we were refusing to lose this game so we have to win it."

On bouncing back after the second set
"The second set wasn't really going for us but it's a new set completely (in the third), a new beginning, and we bounced back really well. We just have pretty strong character, so we refuse to give the game to them that easily."

On the difference from Friday's game
"We adjusted to them, we watched film, we changed a few things up and we just put pressure on them in serving and we passed a lot better, so I think that was the key."

Sophomore Setter Shannon Shields
On getting put in to set
"I was so excited. I wanted to go in there and change it up. I wanted to win and I wanted to be really loud, that was one of my goals coming in, and being really good at communicating with the team. I thought I did good in that and it was awesome. It was fun."

On finishing strong
"One thing we started off that set by saying, 'start strong and end strong.' We've been saying that for a while and I think we finally came through with it. We were up and we gotta finish it right away. We were in the huddle and we were talking and we demanded to finish it. That mentality was something that carried on to the fifth and it was awesome. It was super exciting. It was great that the team was together in what we were planning."

    Set One: Arizona 28, Arizona State 26
    The first set was wild with 10 ties between the rivals. Arizona took the early lead to start the match. The block got going early for the Sun Devils, Claudia Stahlke and Levinska teaming up to stuff the Wildcats and get within one, down 4-3. Back-to-back aces from Isanovic made it a one-point contest again at 11-10, forcing Arizona to call a timeout. After the Wildcats responded to keep the lead, the Sun Devils were able to tie it at 16-16 with a kill from Megan Beedie to cap off a 3-0 run. From there, the teams were back and forth, racking up the ties and trading leads. ASU held off three set points but missed serves set the team back, falling 28-26.
    Set Two: Arizona 25, Arizona State 12
    The Wildcats jumped out to a 7-1 lead and did not let up on the gas. The Sun Devils struggled on serve receive, unable to get the offense going. A kill from Levinska made it 17-9 in favor of the visiting team. The Sun Devils strung together three-straight points at the end of the set, but the damage had been done and they came up short, 25-12.
    Set Three: Arizona State 25, Arizona 16
    In the third set, the Sun Devils started strong, taking an early 4-2 lead after a kill from Levinska. The Wildcats went on a 3-0 run to take the one-point lead, but the Sun Devils responded with three in a row with an ace from Levinska to get back up 13-11. Paige Denton had back-to-back aces to make it 16-12 and force Arizona's second timeout. ASU did not relinquish the lead, ending the set on a 6-1 run, winning the set with a block.

    Set Four: Arizona State 25, Arizona 22
    Arizona State carried over the momentum into the fourth frame. A huge block from Boyd made it 9-6 in favor of ASU. After the Wildcats tied it up, the Sun Devils scored three-straight points including an overpass kill from Beedie to make it 14-11, forcing an Arizona timeout. With Denton at the service line, ASU went on a 4-0 run, including an ace from her, to make it 21-15. The Wildcats clawed back into it, going on a 3-0 run to make it 22-20. Kills from Isanovic and Levinska down the stretch completed the 25-22 win to force a fifth set.

    Set Five: Arizona State 15, Arizona 10
    The Sun Devils led start to finish in the final set, aided by five Wildcat errors to go up 6-3 to start. Rabelo was crucial in the fifth set. Of her three kills, one was the game-winner.
    Up Next
    Arizona State will stay home to host Cal on Friday and Sunday next weekend.