Volleyball Closes Out Pac-10 Season With Crucial Matches Against No. 21 UCLA and No. 1 USC

Nov. 20, 2002

What's On Tap:
The Arizona State Sun Devil volleyball team travels to Southern California this weekend to take on a pair of nationally ranked opponents to end the 2002 Pac-10 season. The Sun Devils are 12-9 (.571) overall and are in a tie with UCLA for fifth place in the conference at 8-8 (.500). ASU will battle No. 21 UCLA Thursday to open its road trip and then across town to face the No. 1 USC on Friday. The Devils split earlier in the year with a 3-1 win against then No. 11 UCLA and are looking to increase their chances of an NCAA Tournament bid with at least a split this weekend. Following their Pac-10 finale, ASU will complete the 2002 regular season at the UNLV Thanksgiving Volleyball Classic in a field that includes UNLV, Weber State and Oral Roberts.

Escobar Eighth In Single-Season Service Aces:
Junior outside hitter Juliana Escobar has moved into eighth place in the ASU record books for service aces in a single season. With five aces last weekend vs. the Oregon schools, Escobar now has 45 on the season and is first in the Pac-10 with 0.56 per game. The ASU single-season record is 65 set by All-American setter Regina Stahl in 1984.

Leddy Closing Out a Record-Setting Career:
Senior middle blocker Julia Leddy is nearing the end of a career that could end up as one of the best middle blockers in school history. With five block assists last weekend she now has 218 in her career to rank 10th in the ASU career record books. After ranking second all-time in ASU single-season history with a .352 hitting percentage last year, Leddy is on pace to break the school record of .353 with a .358 mark through 21 matches this year. Her .338 career hitting percentage is also on pace to break a school record. She is currently 9th among active Pac-10 players with 910 kills and sixth with 286 total blocks.

The End of An Era:
In addition to the three seniors that said farewell during senior night vs. Oregon last Saturday, 14th-year head coach Patti Snyder-Park also bid farewell to the Sun Devil faithful. With a career 213-178 record heading into this weekend, Snyder-Park announced at the beginning of the season that 2002 will be her final year of head coaching at the college level so she can spend more time with her family. ASU has advanced to postseason play six times under Snyder-Park and has finished in the top 25 four different times under her tutelage.

Poll Mechanics:
The Arizona State Volleyball team earned a No. 24 ranking in the USA Today/AVCA poll on Sept. 30 to appear in the poll for the first time since Sept. 3, 1996 (#23). While ASU is not ranked in the top 25 for the second consecutive week, they did receive votes to rank 28th in the nation. With a No. 18 ranking two weeks ago ASU earned its highest national ranking since finishing the 1995 season at No. 11. Now 3-6 against ranked opponents this year, the Devils have notched wins against No. 13 Pacific (3-2; 9/7), No. 11 UCLA (3-1; 9/21) and No. 12 Arizona (3-0; 9/27). The last time ASU finished a season ranked in the poll was 1995 when they were No. 11 and made an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16. ASU Volleyball, celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year (1973-2002), has now been ranked 130 times in school history. The 130 times ASU has appeared in the AVCA poll are the 19th most of all Division 1 volleyball schools.

Devils Remain Perfect in Five-Game Matches:
Arizona State improved to 6-0 in five-game matches with the 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Oregon Ducks (10/18) at McArthur Court. In two of ASU's five-game wins, the Devils have had to battle back from a 0-2 deficit to keep their perfect record. ASU's five-game victories have come against Pacific (9/7), Clemson (9/14), Texas Tech (9/15), Washington (10/3), Cal (10/11) and most recently the Ducks. Comparatively, ASU was 2-3 in five-game matches last year. The Devils also own a 3-2 record in four-game matches and are 3-7 in three-game matches.

Scouting UCLA:
The Bruins enter play this weekend with a 15-12 overall record and are tied with ASU for fifth place in the conference with an 8-8 league mark. The Bruins have lost six of their last nine matches are will be playing without senior middle blocker Angela Eckmier (1.87 kpg, 1.17 bpg) due to a career-ending knee injury. UCLA is led by senior outside hitter Lauren Fendrick (3.66 kpg, 3.02 dpg) and freshman Brittany Ringel (3.35 kpg). UCLA leads the all-time series vs. Arizona State 47-6 and had a 12-match win streak against the Devils snapped earlier this year with a 3-1 ASU win (9/21) in Tempe. ASU is just 1-12 under head coach Patti Snyder-Park at Pauley Pavilion.

Scouting USC:
The Women of Troy enter play this weekend ranked No. 1 in the nation. USC was also ranked No. 1 when they defeated the Sun Devils in Tempe (3-0) on Sept. 20. Prior to their Thursday match against No. 16 Arizona, USC owns a 22-1 overall record and have clinched at least a share of the Pac-10 title with a 15-1 overall mark in Pac-10 play. USC's only loss this year came in a five-game defeat to Stanford (11/2). The Women of Troy are led by All-American April Ross (3.72 kpg, 3.03 dpg) and Phoenix native Emily Adams (3.08 kpg, 1.22 bpg). USC has won 13 straight matches against Arizona State and are 10-3 all-time vs. the Sun Devils at home since Snyder-Park took over the program in 1989. ASU's last win in Los Angeles was in 1995.

Anglin Becomes Second Best Setter in ASU History:
Junior setter Cheryl Anglin has gained sole possession of second place in the ASU career record books moving past former Sun Devil Jennifer Helfrich, who dished out 2,956 assists as a four-year setter from 1989-92. With 3,323 in 77 career matches (11.58 per game average), Anglin has the most assists among active Pac-10 setters. Her season-high 76 assists vs. Oregon (10/18) are the sixth most in ASU single-match history and established an ASU and Pac-10 rally-scoring (adopted in 2001) record. Anglin already holds the single-season school record and freshman record when she had 1,452 in 2000 and also has the second (84) and fifth (77) most assist in single-match history.

Escobar Having All-American Type Year:
Arizona State outside hitter Juliana Escobar continues to have an All-American caliber year leading the Sun Devils in several statistical categories. She was named Pac-10 Volleyball Player of the Week for Sept. 23-Sept. 29 becoming ASU's 14th all-time POW award winner. On the season, Escobar is fifth in the Pac-10 averaging 4.39 kills per game, seventh with 3.335digs per game and leads the conference with 0.56 service aces per game. She has recorded 14 double-doubles (kills/digs) this year (out of ASU's 21 matches), 10 of which have been 20+ kill matches. She recorded her first 20-20 match with ASU rally-scoring record of 27 kills and 26 digs in a five-game win over Oregon (10/18).

Smith Coming On Strong in the Middle:
Junior middle blocker Jodi Smith enters this weekend with a string of solid performance under her belt. She has had back-to-back matches with double digits in kills and has five or more blocks in each of ASU's last three matches (1.60 per game average). For the season she leads the team with 0.92 blocks per game and is ranked eighth in the Pac-10 with 1.11 blocks per game in conference play. She has recorded 10 matches with 10 or more kills this year.

ASU Wins #500:
The three-game sweep of then 12th-ranked Arizona (9/27) not only ended a five-match losing streak to the Wildcats, but also earned a milestone No. 500 all-time victory for the Sun Devil Volleyball program. Dating back to the perfect 21-0 season in the inaugural 1973 season, ASU is 506-355 (.588).

The Barton County CC/Brazilian 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 hail from Barton County CC in Kansas. Escobar, who averaged 6.17 kills per game in her junior college career and was the 2001 AVCA JC Player of the Year, is from Brasilia, Brazil, while Habiger is from Cruzeira, Brazil.

30 Years of Sun Devil Volleyball:
The Sun Devil Volleyball program continues its 30th year of competition this weekend by taking on UCLA and USC on the road. The program has combined for an all-time 506-355 (.588%) record dating back to the first year in 1973. The 1973 season 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 14 Pac-10 Player of the Week awards.

2002 Sun Devil Player Notes...
#1 Mandy Stephens (6-3, Jr., MB/OP, Napa, Calif.) --
Has seen action in 12 matches this year, including one start vs. Cal (10/11)... averaging 1.44 kills per game... has recorded season-high six kills on three different occasions... recorded career-high two service aces vs. California (11/9)... had six kills in victory over Creighton (9/7) and six kills vs. Stanford (10/10) while hitting .462. Career Notes: Averaged 2.51 kills per game while playing in 39 games and 18 matches in 2001... has a career 2.06 kpg average in 42 matches (90 games) as a Sun Devil.

#2 Alicia Akporiaye (6-2, Fr., OH, Tucson, Ariz.) --
Has started all 21 matches this year at opposite hitter... averaging 1.96 kills and 2.07 digs per game this year... averaging 2.09 kpg and 2.15 dpg in Pac-10 play... has recorded four of her six career double-doubles this year, including a 12-kill and career-high 21-dig match vs. Oregon (10/18)... second on the team with 0.20 service aces per game... had her best career match vs. Cal (10/11), nearly tabbing a triple-double with 14 kills, 18 digs and a career-high blocks (8)... recorded career-high 16 kills and added 10 digs in five-game win over Washington (10/3)... notched double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs vs. UCLA (9/21)... the 17 digs matched her previous career high... recorded nine kills in season opener vs. South Carolina (9/6). Career Notes: Named honorable mention freshman All-Pac-10 in 2001... ranked sixth on the team in 2001 by averaging 1.64 kills per game and third with 0.65 blocks per game... averaging 1.80 kpg and 2.02 (305 total) dpg in her 44 career matches as a Sun Devil.

#3 Juliana Escobar (5-11, Jr., OH, Brasilia, Brazil) --
Has started all 21 matches at outside hitter... an All-America and All-Pac-10 candidate... has recorded a double-double (kills/digs) in 14 of ASU's 21 matches this year... also has 20 or more kills in 10 matches and one 20-20 match this year... double-digits in kills in 17 of ASU's 21 matches... leads the team and is ranked fifth in the Pac-10 with 4.39 kpg average... also seventh in the league with 3.35 digs per game... leads the Pac-10 with 0.56 service aces per game, already ranking eighth in single-season school history with 45... averaging 4.31 kpg and 3.45 dpg in Pac-10 play this year... had solid weekend at Oregon and Oregon State (10/18-19), averaging 4.67 kpg and 4.89 dpg in two matches... recorded ASU rally-scoring records with 27 kills, 26 digs and 32.5 points in win over Oregon (10/18)... had 20 kills and 16 digs to help lead ASU to 3-0 win over Arizona (9/27)... became ASU's 14th player to ever earn Pac-10 Player of the Week (9/30) by recording 20 kills and 16 digs vs. Arizona (9/27)... had 23 kills and 13 digs in win over #11 UCLA (9/21)... had 21 kills and 18 digs in her first match as a Sun Devil (South Carolina; 9/6)... tallied 25 kills vs. No. 13 Pacific in her second match as a Sun Devil... had 15 service aces in three matches at Carolina Classic, including six vs. Creighton (9/7)... the six aces are tied for the seventh most in ASU single-match history... named to the all-tournament team at the Carolina Classic and Red Raider Classic. Career Notes: Came to ASU from Barton County CC (Great Bend, Kan.) where she was the 2001 AVCA/NJCAA Player of the Year... averaged 6.17 kpg, 1.11 service aces per game and 2.29 dpg over her two years at the junior college level... played with Sun Devil teammate Fernanda Habiger at Barton County CC.

#4 Natalie Harris (5-11, RS-So., OH, Tempe, Ariz.) --
Has seen action 17 of ASU's 21 matches this year, including five starts... has seen action at outside hitter and opposite hitter this year... averaging 1.51 kpg and 1.89 dpg... recorded season-high nine kills in victory over Creighton (9/7) and also had nine in loss to Washington State (10/4)... notched 10+ dig matches vs. Arizona (9/27) and Washington (10/3)... recorded his ninth career 10+ dig match with at Oregon (10/18)... best match this year was a nine-kill, nine-dig effort off the bench vs. UCLA (9/21). Career Notes: Coming off shoulder surgery and a redshirt season in 2001... averaging 1.29 kpg and 1.78 dpg in 45 career matches (113 games) as a Sun Devil.

#5 Julia Leddy (6-2, Sr., MB, Mesa, Ariz.) --
Nearing the end of her Sun Devil career as ASU's only four-year senior... has started all 21 matches this year at middle blocker... named second team Academic All-District with 3.82 GPA in Elementary Education... has recorded double-digits in kills in 15 of ASU's 21 matches and hit over .300 in all but seven matches... has recorded three straight matches with 10 or more kills, averaging 4.00 kpg during that stretch... second on the team with 3.08 kpg and is ranked fourth in the Pac-10 with .358 hitting percentage... second on the team with 0.84 blocks per game... had team-high 18 kills on a .471 hitting percentage vs. Oregon State (10/19)... recorded 15 kills and was one off of her career high with eight blocks in win over Cal. (10/11)... her four solo blocks vs. Washington (10/3) are tied for second best in the Pac-10 this year... had solid weekend on the road at Oregon and Oregon State (10/18-19) in which averaged 4.44 kpg and 1.00 bpg in the two victories... hit .526 with 22 kills in win over Oregon (10/18)... named tournament MVP at Red Raider Classic after averaging 2.90 kills in the two matches... had 14 kills in back-to-back matches vs. South Carolina and #13 Pacific in the season-opening Carolina Classic... named to all-tournament team at Carolina Classic. Career Notes: Ranked third on the team in 2001 by averaging 2.84 kills per game and led ASU with a .352 hitting percentage, notching the second-highest single-season hitting percentage in school history... had career-high 23 kills vs. Washington (10/12/01)... named tournament MVP of Loyola Marymount Volleyball Challenge during junior year... recorded double-digits in kills in 14 of ASU's 26 matches last year... has recorded 48 matches with 10 or more kills throughout her career and boasts a .338 hitting percentage in 94 career matches as a Sun Devil... only two players (including herself) have hit higher than .338 in a single season in ASU history, let alone a career... two-time Pac-10 All-Academic selection... her 910 kills are tied for the eighth most among active Pac-10 players and 287 total blocks are sixth most... is ranked 10th in career block assists in ASU history (218).

#7 Kim Mehlhorn (5-11, Jr., OH, Tempe, Ariz.) --
Has started 12 of the 21 matches this year and seen action in 50 games... has been sidelined lately with a string of severe migraine headaches, but started both matches last weekend vs. Oregon and Oregon State... averaging 1.92 kills per game and 1.48 dpg this year...recorded her third double-double of the year with 11 kills and 11 digs vs. Oregon (11/16)... hit .583 with seven kills off the bench to help ASU to 3-1 win over Oregon State (10/19)... notched consecutive double-doubles at the Red Raider Classic vs. Clemson and Texas Tech... named to all-tournament team at Red Raider Classic... had season-high 15 kills vs. Clemson (9/14). Career Notes: Recorded 19 matches with 10 or more kills in 2001, including a string of 14 of the last 15 matches to end the season... ranked eighth in the Pac-10 as a sophomore with 3.83 kills per game in league matches only... averaged 3.88 kills per game over the final 15 matches of 2001... has 17 career double-doubles (most among active Sun Devil hitters) and is averaging 2.31 kpg and 2.07 dpg in her 74 matches (235 games) as a Sun Devil.

#8 Courtney Blocher (5-7, Jr, LI/OH, Scottsdale, Ariz.) --
Has started 15 of 21 matches this year, with 14 coming at libero and one (Cal; 10/11) at outside hitter... second on the team and has been ranked in the top 10 in the Pac-10 with 2.81 digs per game... had career-high four service aces (her first four of 2002) in four-game win over Oregon (11/16)... recorded her seventh career 20+ dig match with season-high 24 at Oregon (10/18)... also had 23 digs in five-game win at Washington (10/3)... recorded 20 digs vs. then No. 11 UCLA (9/21)... had 16 digs in five-game win over No. 13 Pacific (9/7)... has recorded 10 or more digs in nine of ASU's 19 matches. Career Notes: Started all 26 matches and played in every game in 2001... recorded four matches with 20+ digs... averaged 3.09 digs per game, second-best on team and ranked fifth in the Pac-10... one of ASU's four sophomores from Chandler's Valley Christian High School... 1999 Arizona Gatorade State Player of the Year... averaging 2.81 digs per game (816 total) and has 41 career matches with 10 or more digs in her 77 matches as a Sun Devil... her 816 digs are eighth most among active Pac-10 players.

#10 Cheryl Anglin (5-9, Jr., S, Queen Creek, Ariz.) --
ASU's starting setter 20 of the 21 matches this year... averaging 9.71 assists per game this year, seventh best in the Pac-10... recorded a Pac-10-best 76 assists at Oregon (10/18) to rank as the sixth-best assist performance in ASU single-match history... the 76 assists are the third most in Anglin's career and established an ASU and Pac-10 rally-scoring record... also dished out 67 assists vs. Clemson (9/14)... moved into second place in ASU career record books for assists (3,323) past former Sun Devil (1989-92) Jennifer Helfrich... her 17 assists vs. Arizona (10/25) were a single-match career low during her three years at ASU. Career Notes: Has the most career assists among active Pac-10 setters with 3,135... school single-season record and freshman record holder for assists when she had 1,452 as a freshman in 2000... owns the second (84), fifth (77) and sixth (76) best assist performances in school history... has recorded 39 career matches with 40 or more assists and 24 matches with 50 or more assists in her career... averaging 11.58 assists per game in 77 career matches (280 games) as a Sun Devil.

#11 Jodi Smith (6-1, RS-Jr., MB, St. Johns, Ariz.) --
Has started 20 matches this year at middle blocker... has 10 or more kills in 10 of ASU's 19 matches... leads the team with 0.92 blocks per game... ranked eighth with 1.11 blocks per game in Pac-10 play... averaging 1.60 blocks per game in her last three matches... has four or more blocks in eight of ASU's last 10 matches... had career-high eight blocks in five-game win over Cal (10/11)... set season-high with 15 kills vs. Oregon (10/18)... averaging 2.46 kpg to rank third on the team and is second in hitting percentage (behind Julia Leddy) at .264... had career-high three service aces vs. Pacific (9/7)... had 14 kills and hit .370 in win over No. 13 Pacific (9/7)... had 12 kills in four consecutive matches (9/20-10/3). Career Notes: ASU's only two sport female athlete... also a high jumper on the ASU track & field team... tied for third in last year's Pac-10 meet with a jump of 5 ft, 7.25 inches... led the team with 0.86 blocks per game last year and ranked fifth with a 2.27 kill/game average... is averaging 2.32 kpg and is a career .265 hitter in 51 matches (170 games) as a Sun Devil... one of three married players on this year's squad (Habiger, Arnett).

#12 Fernanda Habiger (5-11, Sr., S, Cruzeira, Brazil) --
Has seen action in all 21 matches this year, including her first career start on senior night vs. Oregon (11/16)... was ASU's sparkplug off the bench in wins over Texas Tech (9/15), UCLA (9/21) and Arizona (9/27)... averaging 0.51 blocks per game this year to rank third on the team... had a career-high 4.0 blocks vs. UCLA (9/21) and vs. Washington (10/3)... notched a career-high seven kills vs. Washington... averaging 3.66 assists per game, including a career-high 30 in five-game victory over Texas Tech (9/15)...her 30 assists vs. TTU marked the first time since 1999 that a player other then Cheryl Anglin has led the team in assists. Career Notes: Finished her first year as a Sun Devil (2001) with 0.39 kpg, 2.15 assists/game and 0.39 dpg... transferred from Barton County CC in Great Bend, Kansas... one of two ASU players who are native to Brazil... was the JC teammate of Juliana Escobar... one of three players on this years team that is married (Smith, Arnett).

#13 Brittany Arnett (5-7, Sr., DS, Mesa, Ariz.) --
One of three seniors on this years team... has moved into a starting role in the last six matches at libero... had career-high 22 digs vs. Washington (11/02) and 14 vs. Washington State (11/01)... had 17 digs in five-game victory over California (10/11)... averaging 2.59 dpg in 46 games played this year... averaging 13.0 digs per match in her six starts this year (3.90 per game average). Career Notes: Finished second on the team with 23 service aces last year... has 15 career matches with 10 or more digs, including five this year... one of three players who are married (Smith, Habiger).

#14 Sarah Watkins (5-11, Fr., OH/S, Mishawaka, Ind.) --
One of two true freshmen on this year's squad... made her first career start against Washington (11/02) and recorded her first career double-double with 11 kills and 22 digs... sidelined last week with an ankle injury... played in all three games vs. Creighton (9/7), recording one dig and one service ace... came off the bench in win vs. California (10/11) to record six kills while hitting .308... has played in eight matches and 21 games this year (3 starts), averaging 1.14 kpg and 1.67 points per game... a four-time all-conference selection in high school... named state MVP her senior year.

#15 Nora Pirzynski (5-6, Fr., DS/LI, Manhattan Beach, Calif.) --
One of two true freshmen on this year's squad... has seen action in nine of ASU's 21 matches this year... had one kills and two digs in ASU debut vs. South Carolina (9/6)... season-high six digs vs. Clemson (9/14)... averaging 0.94 digs per game this year... attended Mira Costa High School where she lettered three years in varsity volleyball... first-team all-CIF as a senior and helped lead Mira Costa to back-to-back CIF championships.

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