Volleyball Opens 2002 Season At South Carolina Classic
Sept. 2, 2002
What's On Tap:
The 2002 Arizona State Sun Devil Volleyball team opens the 2002 season with the Carolina Classic this weekend in Columbia, S.C. ASU takes on host South Carolina in the first match of the season at 7 p.m. (EST) Friday. The Devils will then face No. 13 Pacific at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 7 and come back later that night to face Creighton at 5 p.m. The Sun Devils are coming off a 10-16 season in 2001 and a seventh place finish in the Pac-10 (5-13).
Scouting South Carolina:
The Gamecocks, ranked 26th in the AVCA preseason poll, are off to a 2-1 start to the 2002 season after taking second at the MSU Volleyball Classic. They easily defeated Georgetown and Oakland, but fell 3-1 to No. 15 Michigan State. USC returns five starters and 10 letterwinners from a team that finished the 2001 season 20-6 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. ASU is 1-1 all-time vs. South Carolina, dropping a touch 3-2 match last year at the Sun Devil Volleyball Classic.
The Tigers entered the season ranked No. 12 by the AVCA and after going 2-1 to open the season dropped one spot to No. 13. Pacific defeated Murray State and New Hampshire, but lost to No. 13 Utah in five games. The Tigers return three starters and nine letterwinners from last years team that finished 28-8 and advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinals. Pacific is led by 2001 AVCA second-team All-American middle blocker Jennifer Joines. The Sun Devils are 0-5 all-time vs. Pacific.
The Bluejays are 0-1 to start the 2002 season after dropping their opening match to Kansas 3-0. Creighton was 14-13 a year ago and 12-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference. They return only one starter and seven letterwinners from that squad. ASU will be playing Creighton for the first time in school history.
Snyder-Park's Swan Song:
ASU head coach Patti Snyder-Park begins coaching her 14th and final season for the Sun Devils. Arriving in Tempe after serving as an assistant coach at Cal in 1989, Snyder-Park has recorded a career 201-169 record in her 13 seasons at the helm of the program.
What Returns For 2002:
The Sun Devils lost only two letterwinners from last year and return most of the starting lineup. In all, 10 letterwinners, including six starters are back on the court for ASU to open the 2002 season. Also joining the program are three newcomers. Junior outside hitter Juliana Escobar, the 2001 AVCA Junior College Player of the Year, joins the team, as does freshmen Sarah Watkins (OH/S, Mishawaka, Ind.) and Nora Pirzynski (DS, Manhatten Beach, Calif.).
The Barton County CC/Brazillian Connection:
With the addition of 2001 AVCA Junior College Player of the Year Juliana Escobar, the Sun Devils now have two players who are native to Brazil. Senior setter Fernanda Habiger and Escobar both came from Barton County CC in Kansas. Escobar, who averaged 6.17 kills per game in her junior college career, is from Sobradinhio DF, Brazil, while Habiger is from Cruzeira, Brazil.
2001 Honors and Awards:
Senior outside hitter Jami Coughlin was the conference leader in digs with a 3.98 per game average, but did not make any of the All-Pac-10 teams. Coughlin did earn her third straight mention to the Pac-10 Academic team and was a first-team Verizon Academic All-American with a perfect 4.0 GPA in Education. Although not on the team any more as a player, Coughlin returns in 2002 as the team manager. Junior middle blocker Julia Leddy was also a Pac-10 Academic selection. Freshman middle blocker Alicia Akporiaye was an honorable mention selection for the Pac-10 Freshman team.
30 Years of Sun Devil Volleyball:
The Sun Devil Volleyball program begins its 30th year of competition this weekend at the Columbia Volleyball Classic vs. South Carolina, Creighton and nationally ranked Pacific. The program has combined for an all-time 494-346 (.588) record dating back to the first year in 1973. That 1973 year, also provided the best record in school history, with the Sun Devils going 21-0 under the guidance of head coach Mary Littlewood. Four head coaches have guided the program to 16 appearances in postseason play, including a string of four straight regional appearances from 1985-88 and 1992-95. The program has finished in the AVCA Top 25 rankings nine times and has had five players earn AVCA All-America status. Since beginning play in the Pac-10 in 1986, ASU has had 13 Pac-10 Player of the Week awards.
On The Road:
For the first time since Patti Sndyer-Parks inaugural season in 1989, the Sun Devils will be opening the season on the road. In fact, ASU will not play a home match this year until opening the Pac-10 season with nationally ranked USC and UCLA Sept. 20-21 at Wells Fargo Arena. Due to not enough teams committing to what was the annual Phoenix Airport Hilton/Sun Devil Classic, ASU will open the year with two tournaments on the road.
After facing Creighton, South Carolina and Pacific at the Columbia Volleyball Classic, the Sun Devils will travel to Lubbock, Texas to face Texas Tech and Clemson in the Red Raider Classic (Sept. 14-15). ASU will then play three straight Pac-10 matches at home against ranked opponents, hosting No. 3 USC (Sept. 20), No. 7 UCLA (Sept. 21) and No. 11 Arizona (Sept. 27). The stretch of three straight home matches is the longest home stand of the season for ASU.