2007 Volleyball Season Outlook

Aug. 10, 2007

The 2007 ASU Volleyball Team returns to the court this fall after one of the most successful seasons in ASU history, which saw them return to the NCAA Tournament for their 15th appearance where they advanced to the second round before falling to the seventh-ranked Florida Gators in Gainesville, Fla.

With a large returning roster and several extremely talented newcomers added to the roster, the 2007 season is already set to be a great one for fifth-year Head Coach, Brad Saindon and his ASU volleyball program.

'First off regarding last season, I'd just like to note what a great season it was. We feel like we turned a huge corner for the program, and considering the competition of the Pac-10 and the challenge our schedule holds every year, it's not an easy corner to turn. We got our program back to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round, and maybe most significantly our RPI, (Rating Percent Index) which is used by the NCAA in tournament selections, went from 152 to 30 in one year, one of the largest leaps that any team has ever made in the history of NCAA Volleyball. To be able to make that jump and obtain success in the process is an obvious marker that we are headed in the right direction and we're looking to build on our success in 2006 in this upcoming season. We will look to climb even higher in the RPI index, which only gets harder the further you climb. We are amongst the elite teams in the nation, and so the work and struggle becomes more arduous. That said, I like where we at and feel we are poised to undertake that challenge.

'Our off-season and spring training were very strong, and while we definitely lost three significant players who played a big part in the turnaround of the program, our big task now is filling those shoes, which is absolutely an attainable goal with the roster we've put together for 2007.

'We have an interesting group of players consisting of a large senior class of six who have been through the hard times and were able to be a huge part of the turnaround of last year. In contrast, we have a large incoming freshman class of seven who are excited and anxious and enthusiastic to start their college careers.  We round out the roster at 19, which is one of the biggest teams I've ever coached, but the energy of the freshmen combined with the experience of the seniors I think is what is going to bring us a great balance throughout the season.

On the setter position:

            'Last year Marina Mercer arrived on scene to step up in her first year to take the setter position, which she currently has a stranglehold on and she's playing extremely well. I can safely say I feel really confident in her as the kind of 'quarterback' of our team. She wants to be out there and she's confident in taking such a pressure-filled position, which she already showed immense success at last season against some of the best competition in the country.

The Outside Hitters:

            'Our main strength in outside hitters is Junior, Margie Giordano, who returns this year after starting almost every match of her career since she's been here. She's a great all-around volleyball player, she can pass, defend, get kills for us; an overall threat anywhere on the floor. She's one of the hardest workers on the team and will no doubt be a staple on offense for us.

            'We also have Kristin Trayser returning, Kristin has back surgery last year, forcing us to redshirt her, but she's back healthy and will be a key player for us as an outside hitter.

            'This spring sophomore Paige Mittelstaedt made unbelievable progress; she is such a strong, physical outside hitter who is only going to get better as she gets more comfortable at the level of play in the Pac-10.

            'We also have a freshman outside hitter in Sarah Reeves who we're really excited about, she was the Arizona High School Player of the Year and I really think she'll have a chance to contribute significantly. She is such a great athlete and if we can teach her the system quickly, I feel like we'll see a lot of Sarah Reeves.

In The Middle:

            'I think the middle for us will be an extremely competitive position for us this year, which is great for us. Staci Smith and Colette Meek, both seniors return giving us strength and experience in the middle. We also moved Danielle Fernandes back into the middle, where she excelled in spring training and we like her athleticism there.

            'There are also two freshmen, Sarah Todorovich and Jeanea Rosell, who can absolutely compete for a starting spot right out of the gate. They are both getting better and better and I think it's going to be the most competitive position on the team, and one of our strengths as it has the most depth on the roster.

The Libero/Defensive Specialist:

            'Perhaps one of our most well-known players is Sydney Donahue, one of the best liberos in the country. Last year she broke the ASU career digs record and currently has 1,631, placing her fourth in Pac-10 history, with a very good chance to eclipse the Pac-10 career record of 2,064 in her senior season, a huge accomplishment in both her career and for the ASU volleyball program considering the competition of the Pac-10 and the elite company she shares in that category.

            'In addition we also have two players who are going to push Sydney in the libero position with Alison Lund returning for her senior year, who played in nearly every match last year.  She's a terrific sever and passer who brings a ton of energy to the team.

            'We also have a freshman, Sarah Johnson, who may be the heir apparent to Sydney's position as a libero, but even as a freshman she has the talent and potential to be on the floor as well as a libero.

Expectations:

            'We fully expect to take another step forward this season, it's been an arduous three years to get this program turned around which we finally did last year. We expect to get back to the NCAA Tournament, but the road there is one of the hardest. The Pac-10 Conference is arguably the best in the nation, there was a period last year where six Pac-10 teams were ranked in the top eight in the nation and last year three Pac-10 teams played in the Final Four for the national championship. Virtually every match is a battle against the best teams in America, coached by some of the best coaches.

'Climbing the ladder and making progress in your program is unbelievably hard to do, but after making huge steps in the progress last year, we believe and expect to be ready to build on it this year. We made the tournament and advanced to the second round where we had an opportunity, and held tough against the #7 Florida Gators on their own home court, this year we expect an even better outcome and hopefully further advancement in the tournament.

'We'd also like to continue the progress in making the Arizona State Volleyball program one that is regarded and spoken of in the same breath as the most elite programs in the nation. That is our ultimate goal that is obtained one practice, one game, one match and one season at a time.'

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