Volleyball Faces Tough Matches At No. 1 USC And No. 8 UCLA
Oct. 7, 2003
After going 1-2 during its longest home stretch of the year, the Arizona State Volleyball team takes back to the road this weekend with a pair of matches in Southern California. ASU will take on the defending national champion USC Trojans on Friday (Oct. 10) and then travel across town to battle the No. 8 UCLA Bruins. The Trojans are 14-0 overall and 5-0 in Pac-10 play, while the Bruins are 12-2 and 4-1 in league play. Arizona State is 6-8 overall and is tied for seventh in the Pac-10 with a 1-4 record. Junior outside hitter Natalie Harris leads the team and ranks fifth in the Pac-10 averaging 4.28 kills per game.
A Tough Road Ahead:
The Pac-10 currently has five teams ranked in the top 25, and ASU is in a stretch where they will face all six in a seven match span. After going 0-2 last weekend at home against No. 4 Stanford and No. 9 California, ASU is now 1-3 against ranked opponents this year. ASU's lone win over a ranked opponent came against No. 22 Arizona (9/26) in a thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 victory. ASU takes to the road this weekend to face defending national champion USC (#1) and UCLA (#8).
What's On Tap:
The Devils face two of the hottest teams in the nation this weekend when they visit USC and UCLA. ASU will also be looking for their first wins at either of the two schools since earning a sweep in 1995. The Devils face a 14-match losing streak against USC and a seven-match road losing streak against UCLA. The Devils earned a 3-1 win over UCLA at home last year. ASU is 10-41 all-time against USC and 6-48 against UCLA.
Recapping Last Weekend:
ASU is coming off a challenging set of home matches in which they lost to a pair of undefeated Pac-10 teams. No. 4 Stanford defeated ASU in three games (30-24, 30-22, 30-22). Natalie Harris led ASU with a match-high 16 kills on an impressive .333 hitting percentage. The Devils came back the next night and lost a hard-fought match against the unbeaten Cal Golden Bears (13-0, 5-0 Pac-10). The Cal match featured 37 tie scores and 17 lead changes as ASU handed Cal only its third game loss of the year in the 3-1 defeat. Harris again led the Sun Devils with 20 kills, as five total players reached double-digits in kills. The sweep by the Northern California schools marked the first time since 1997 that ASU has lost both matches to Stanford and Cal.
Recapping The Arizona Match:
The Sun Devils recorded a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind win over No. 22 Arizona (9/26) for their lone Pac-10 victory this season. The Devils trailed 2-0 heading into the intermission, but stormed back to take the last three games and earn back-to-back wins over Arizona at home for the first time since 1995-96. The Devils were led by a balanced offensive attack that saw four players record double-digits in kills. Natalie Harris recorded 19 kills (.234) and 13 digs for her sixth double-double of the year. Mandy Stephens tallied a season-high 13 kills on a blistering .435 hitting percentage. Juliana Escobar tallied 12 kills and Sarah Watkins contributed 10 in the winning effort.
Seven Times The Fun:
Twice so far during the 2003 season a pair of Sun Devils have recorded seven service aces in a single match. The seven aces served up by Sarah Watkins (8/29 vs. Utah) and Kim Mehlhorn (9/26 vs. Arizona) are tied for the third most in ASU single-match history. The school record for service aces in a match is nine set by Reginal Stahl vs. New Mexico in 1984. The performances by Mehlhorn and Watkins both established records under the rally scoring format.
Mehlhorn Heating Up:
Senior outside Kim Mehlhorn is coming off one of the best performance in her career when she hit a career-high .467 with 16 kills against California. For the season Mehlhorn is averaging 2.45 kpg and has recorded five matches with 10 or more kills.
Harris Becoming Big-Time Player:
Redshirt junior Natalie Harris has quickly become ASU's go-to player on the court. For the season, Harris leads ASU and is fifth in the Pac-10 averaging 4.28 kills per game. She also leads the Devils with 0.48 service aces per game and is fourth on the team with 2.60 digs per game. She has 12 matches with 10 or more kills and has recorded seven double-doubles. Harris made the all-tournament team at the SBC/Sand Regency Volleyball Classic in Reno, Nev. Harris tied her career high with 17 digs against Tennessee (9/6) and set a new high with 24 kills. She also had 27.5 points and four total blocks vs. the Lady Vols. She is coming off a solid weekend against Cal and Stanford in which she averaged 5.14 kills per game and recorded her third 20+ kill performance of the year.
Watkins Inks Name In Record Books:
Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Watkins etched her name in the ASU record books with a memorable serving performance in the season-opening 3-1 victory over Utah. Watkins, one of ASU's starting outside hitters who played sparingly as a freshman in 2002, recorded seven aces to rank tied for third in the single-match record books. Senior OH Kim Mehlhorn also matched her performance against Arizona (9/26). Watkins has been one of ASU's most consistent players through the first 14 matches of the year, averaging 2.43 kills per game to rank fourth on the team and has recorded 10 or more kills in eight matches. She set career highs against Washington State with 15 kills (.375) and 4.0 blocks.
Stephens Fourth in Pac-10 In Hitting Percentage:
Senior middle blocker Mandy Stephens (Napa, Calif.) ranks fourth in the Pac-10 and eighth in the nation with a .427 hitting percentage. She was named the tournament MVP of the SMU Radisson Volleyball classic held Sept. 12-13 in Dallas, Texas. Stephens averaged 3.00 kills per game and did not make a hitting error on 46 attacks (.587%) during tourney play. She recorded one of the best matches of her career in the three-game win over SMU (9/13) when she tallied 10 kills (.625 attack percentage) and a career-high six blocks. For the season, Stephens is averaging 2.37 kills per game and leads ASU with 0.84 blocks per game. In her last nine matches, Stephens has recorded eight or more kills in all but one match.
Escobar Earns All-Tournament Trifecta:
Senior outside hitter Juliana Escobar (Brasilia, Brazil) was named to the all-tournament team in each of ASU's three non-conference tournaments. Through ASU's first 14 matches, Escobar is averaging 3.38 kpg and 3.32 digs per game. She has recorded 10 or more kills in 10 matches and has eight double-doubles to her credit. For her career, Escobar has recorded 589 kills (3.98 kpg) and 495 digs (3.34 dpg) while tallying 24 double-doubles.
* Senior OH Kim Mehlhorn has 717 career kills, ninth most among active Pac-10 players.* The Sun Devils feature a roster of six seniors, three juniors, one sophomore and four freshmen.* Senior setter Cheryl Anglin is second in the ASU career record books with 3,967 assists.* Juliana Escobar has recorded a double-double in 24 of her 40 (60%) career matches as a Sun Devil.* Head Coach Brad Saindon and assistants Terri Cox and Jami Coughlin are all ASU graduates.* Senior libero Courtney Blocher became only the 13th Sun Devil to record 1,000 digs in a career (1,026).* ASU has outscored its opponent 1,382-1,351 in the 14 matches this year.* ASU has led its opponents in kills in 12 of the 14 matches this year, but also recorded 230 service errors.* Saindon became only the second coach in ASU Volleyball history to defeat Arizona in his debut.* Escobar's 26 digs against Tennessee (9/6) are tied for the most among Pac-10 players this year.* Saindon compiled a 181-112 (.618) record at Colorado (1986-96) and led CU to six NCAA Tournaments.* ASU has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four years and 14 times in program history.* ASU's nine academic All-Americans are fourth most among Division I volleyball programs.* ASU will appear on two more TV games this year: at Stanford (Fox) and vs. UCLA (AZ-TV).* Blocher ranks third in the Pac-10 averaging 3.68 digs per game.
Packing the House:
The official attendance of 3,225 for the Arizona (9/26) match marked only the fourth time since 1990 that an ASU Volleyball match had a crowd of over 3,000. The crowd is the fourth best dating back to 1990 and is second most dating back to the 1994 season. The school record for attendance at a home match was in 1986 against Stanford when 8,516 fans attempted to break the NCAA record. In the weekly AVCA Volleyball Attendance Rankings, ASU ranks 24th with an average crowd of 1,182 and the 3,225 vs. Arizona is the 28th highest attended match.
Down 0-2... No Problem:
After being down 0-2 to Arizona, the Devils stormed back to capture the thrilling 3-2 win over the Wildcats. The come-from-behind win marked the third straight year under the rally scoring format that ASU has rallied for victory after being down a pair of games. The Devils defeated California (Oct. 11) last year at home by scores of 27-30, 21-30, 30-27, 30-26, 15-10. In 2001, the Devils defeated in-state rival Northern Arizona (Oct. 23, 2001) also after being down 2-0. The Devils came back to defeat the Lumberjacks 28-30, 25-30, 30-21, 30-19, 15-9.
Anglin Is Second Best Setter in ASU History:
Senior setter Cheryl Anglin has spent the season splitting duties with junior Giovana Melo in 2003, but will forever have her named etched in the ASU record books. Anglin gained sole possession of second place in the ASU career record books midway through her junior season, moving past former Sun Devil Jennifer Helfrich. With 3,967 in 97 career matches (11.02 per game average), Anglin has the most assists among active Pac-10 setters. She recorded 76 assists vs. Oregon (10/18/02) to ranks as the sixth most in ASU single-match history and established an ASU and Pac-10 rally-scoring (adopted in 2001) record. Anglin also 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. Anglin leads the Devils with 7.98 assists per game and has recorded seven matches with 30 or more assists.
ASU Career Assists:1. Regina Stahl (1984-87) 5,1802. Cheryl Anglin (2000-P) 3,9673. Jennifer Helfrich (1989-92) 2,9564. Noelle Fridrich (1986-89) 2,7315. Jolynn Faatulu (1995-98) 2,730
Blocher Reaches 1,000 Career Digs:
Senior libero Courtney Blocher made history during the Arizona match when she recorded her 1,000th career dig. Blocher, a three-year starter for the Sun Devils, notched 14 digs to pass the milestone, becoming only the 13th player in Sun Devil Volleyball history to reach 1,000 digs in a career. Current assistant coaches Jami Coughlin (1,528) and Terri Cox (1,382) are second and third respectively in ASU's career record books. To crack the career top 10, Blocher needs 78 more digs. Blocher ranks third in the Pac-10 averaging 3.68 digs per game this year.
ASU Career Digs:1. Christy Nore (1985-88) 1,5972. Jami Coughlin (1998-01) 1,5283. Terri Cox (1994-97) 1,3824. Mindy Gowell (1987-91) 1,3655. Leanne Schuster (1991-94) 1,2846. Christine Garner (1992-95) 1,2537. Nancy Christian (1990-93) 1,2218. Kelly Plaisted (1987-90) 1,1949. Tammy Webb (1983-86) 1,17810. Tracey Barberie (1984-87) 1,10411. Amanda Burbridge (1997-00) 1,06012. Noelle Fridrich (1986-89) 1,05013. Courtney Blocher (2000-P) 1,026