Volleyball Drops Season Opener 3-1 To South Carolina

Sept. 6, 2002

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Junior outside hitter Juliana Escobar recorded 21 kills and 18 digs in her first match as a Sun Devil, but it wasn't enough as the Arizona State Volleyball team dropped its fourth straight season opener in a 3-1 loss to South Carolina Friday night in the first day of the Carolina Classic. Game scores in the Sun Devil loss to the preseason No. 26 Gamecocks were 31-33, 33-31, 26-30, 25-30.

The Sun Devils (0-1) are now 1-2 against South Carolina in the all-time series, also losing last year 3-2 (20-30, 25-30, 30-27, 30-20, 15-11) in the Phoenix Airport Hilton/Sun Devil Challenge. ASU is now 22-8 in the 30 years of ASU Volleyball in season openers and 9-5 under current head coach Patti Snyder-Park. South Carolina, ranked 30th in the recent AVCA poll, improved to 3-1 with the victory, losing its only match this year to No. 12 Michigan State.

In addition to Escobar's (Sobradinhio DF, Brazil) first career double-double, she led all players with 25.0 points, also contributing a match-high four service aces. Senior middle blocker Julia Leddy (Mesa, Ariz.) had a good match with 14 kills and junior outside hitter Kim Mehlhorn (Tempe, Ariz.) contributed 11 kills. Sophomore setter Cheryl Anglin (Queen Creek, Ariz.) paced the ASU offense with 42 assists. Junior Courtney Blocher (Scottsdale, Ariz.) had 13 digs in her debut as the libero, a new position created this year for NCAA women's volleyball.

South Carolina was led by outside hitter Cally Plummer who recorded 18 kills, nine digs and two service aces. Sarah Morgan, Sam Alban and Berna Dwyer also contributed double-digits in kills in the victory. Senior setter Megan Hosp had a match-high 49 assists.

The Devils fought hard in the opening game, despite hitting only .234 compared to a torrid .395 mark by the Gamecocks. Trailing until late in the match, ASU pushed South Carolina into extra points where the Gamecocks eventually prevailed 33-31. Escobar, the 2001 AVCA Junior College Player of the Year while at Barton County CC, led the Devils with eight kills and six digs in the opening frame.

ASU tied the match by pulling out a 33-31 win in game two in remarkable fashion. Down 29-28 and facing game point, Escobar took over the match with three kills and a service ace to give the Devils the win. Mehlhorn put the game away with a kill of an Anglin set. Escobar once again led ASU with seven kills.

South Carolina pulled ahead 2-1 with a 30-26 game three victory. The Devils hit a respectable .296, but Escobar was often shadowed by several blockers and managed only four kills in the game. The Gamecocks pulled away with a 30-26 win in game four to win the match, hitting .366 compared to ASU's dismal mark of .146.

Arizona State will continue play at the Carolina Classic Saturday with two matches. The Devils will take on perennial national power and 13th-ranked Pacific in the early match (12:30 p.m. EST) and Creighton in the evening match (5 p.m. EST). Pacific defeated Creighton 3-0 (30-23, 30-17, 30-17) in Friday's tournament opening match.

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