Kacie Evans

Georgia outside hitter Kacie Evans (23) during a match against Kentucky at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Georgia, on Feb. 13, 2021. (Tony Walsh/UGA Athletics)

Georgia volleyball defeated Arizona State in five sets 25-22, 18-25, 25-16, 20-25, 15-7 in a Friday morning game in the Ameritas Players Challenge in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Kills were the name of the game for the Bulldogs, as four players finished the match with double-digit kill marks. In her first game of the season, junior Kacie Evans led the team with 16 kills while junior Amber Stivrins and senior Kayla Rivera had 15 and 13 kills respectively to add to Georgia’s offensive effort. Sophomore Phoebe Awoleye also tied her career best with 11 total kills.

Other strong performances included redshirt senior Claire Rothenberger who contributed a season high 13 digs and freshman Clara Brower who handed out 59 assists.

With five lead changes and seven ties in the first set, the Bulldogs were in a tight battle. Georgia went on a 3-0 momentum-gaining run after falling behind 8-7. However, Arizona State answered with a 3-0 run of their own which tied the set at 16-all. Despite the entire set being close, Georgia fought out of the timeout and finished the set on top, 25-22.

After being down 10-7 in the second set, a 5-1 run led by Stivrins put Georgia back in control, up 12-11. However, that wasn’t enough to keep the Bulldogs rolling as Arizona State went on to a 6-1 run later on in the set, giving the Sun Devils a 18-15 lead. Arizona State then rode that momentum into a 25-18 victory in the second set.

Evans and Stivrins both continued their offensive dominance as they both reached 10 kills in the third set, giving Georgia a chance to bounce back after the second set. After a 6-1 run and a six-point lead that put them up 16-10, the Bulldogs were able to cruise into a third set win 25-16.

With the loss leaning towards Georgia’s opponent, Arizona State fought back once again by taking a 7-3 early in the fourth set. Georgia never got an opportunity to catch up as Arizona State took its early lead into a 25-20 victory to force a fifth set.

Once again, it was Georgia’s turn to flip the momentum back to its side as they took an early 6-4 lead which was soon pushed to a 9-5 lead. Once the Bulldogs got the separation that they needed, they scored six of the final seven points to finally put them over Arizona State for good.

Georgia will be back on the court on Friday night at 7 p.m. where they will take on No. 4 Nebraska.