Arizona State (1-8) dropped its on Friday night, losing in four sets against No. 16 UCLA (6-3).
ASU competed throughout, but dropped three sets by three points to the Bruins. With senior middle blocker Megan Beedie out due to injury, the Sun Devils were playing with nearly all underclassmen.
Similar to many other matches this year, the group competed, but the highly-ranked Bruins were too much to handle.
“I thought there were some moments today where we looked better than the past couple weekends. Due to some injuries, we lost Megan, so this is literally a team of freshmen and sophomores right now just trying to go out there and get some Pac-12 experience,” said head coach Sanja Tomasevic. “It’s been a tough night but I’m proud of how we fought. I want to give props to Claudia Stahlke who came up tonight and played a really good match for her first college career match and Regan Tinkle who came in late but I thought she also did a really good job.”
As Tomasevic noted, freshman Claudia Stahlke made her first appearance at ASU, and she had seven blocks. She was one of the bright spots in the defeat.
“My team helped me out a lot,” Stahlke said. “It was my first match that I have ever played collegiately, so it was really helpful that they were all talking to me. I just wanted to execute that game plan that Coach Sanja had for us, and I think that helped me get my mind right and to have confidence in myself to help the team when the game was very close in the end. It was very exciting. My adrenaline was definitely pumping, but I put it to good use and the team helped me out a lot to try to execute the game plan.”
As for UCLA, the Bruins had solid performances from senior outside hitter Mac May and freshman Allison Jacobs. May had a game-high 19 kills, while Jacobs had 10 of her own. For the Sun Devils, sophomore Iman Isanovic had 14 kills to lead ASU.
With the loss, ASU has now dropped eight matches in a row after winning the opening game of the season. Despite a rough stretch, Tomasevic can see the bigger picture. This group is very young, and they are learning with every game.
It’s a matter of time before they learn to put it together, not only in upcoming matches, but in future years.
“We’re returning this whole team for another three years, and we talk about it as a group. This is an investment into our future,” Tomasevic said. “We’re going to continue to get better. We’re getting these reps and learning what it takes to win in the Pac-12. This young team didn’t have a chance to compete in preseason because of COVID, so we didn’t have a chance to really get something going. I’m really excited for the future. I think we have a lot of talent in this gym. They just need to get more experience and get things done. If you guys could see practices, they look a lot better than games. We have to bring that effort to the games and it’s going to take some time.”