Volleyball Opens Brad Saindon Era August 29 vs. Utah
July 22, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. (www.TheSunDevils.com) -- The 2003 Arizona State Sun Devil Volleyball team will face a challenging schedule of 27 matches, including facing 10 schools that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last year announced first-year head coach Brad Saindon.
ASU opens the 2003 campaign with the Sun Devil Volleyball Classic. The Devils will host San Diego, Utah and Ohio in the four-team tournament held Aug. 29-30 at Wells Fargo Arena. ASU opens tournament action with the Utes on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. Both Utah and San Diego advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2002 and finished in the top 35 in the final AVCA national rankings.
'We open the season with a really tough slate at our own tournament and it doesn't get any easier after that,' said Saindon, who returns to the college ranks at his alma mater after coaching at the international level since 1997. 'Utah and San Diego are two very good teams and will challenge us right out of the gates. It is important for us to pick up some confidence early with those early matches before we open Pac-10 play.'
After hosting the season-opening tournament, ASU will travel to Reno, Nev. (Sept. 5-6), to face tournament host Nevada, Tennessee and Gonzaga Nevada Wolfpack Volleyball Classic. The squad will continue on the road at the SMU Radisson Invitational in Dallas, Texas (Sept. 12-13), to face SMU, Stephen F. Austin and Chattanooga.
With the non-conference slate completed, Saindon and the Sun Devil will embark on another brutal Pac-10 season. After the conference sent a record eight teams to the NCAA Tournament last year, the Pac-10 will once again be one of the toughest conferences in the nation. The Sun Devils open play on the road at Washington (Sept. 18) and Washington State (Sept. 19), before hosting rival Arizona on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.
'There is no off weekend in the Pac-10,' said Saindon. 'When I was at Colorado (1986-96), we played all the Pac-10 teams, but we never played them all in a row and we never played them twice in a season. It is the best volleyball conference in the nation.'
Other home matches that highlight the 2003 schedule include hosting defending national champion USC (Nov. 8) and perennial national power Stanford (Oct. 2). All home matches will be played at Wells Fargo Arena on the ASU campus and start at 7 p.m., with exception to a 5 p.m. start against Washington State (Nov. 21).
The Sun Devils are coming off a 15-12 season in 2002 during the last year of the Patti Snyder-Park era and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. ASU returns eight players from the 2002 squad, including a veteran core of six seniors. Senior outside hitter Juliana Escobar, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection last year, leads a talented group of six returning starters. Setter Cheryl Anglin, libero Courtney Blocher, outside hitter Kim Mehlhorn, middle blocker Jodi Proctor (formerly Jodi Smith) and junior outside hitter Natalie Harris all have extensive starting experience heading into the season.
ASU will open fall practices during the first week of August with players reporting on August 6. Fans can get their first glimpse of the 2003 Sun Devils on Aug. 23 with the Maroon and Gold Scrimmage held at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.