Escobar And Watkins Lead Volleyball To Season Opening Win Over Utah

Aug. 29, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. ( -- Senior outside hitter Juliana Escobar recorded 24 kills and sophomore Sarah Watkins tallied seven service aces to lead the Sun Devil Volleyball team to a 3-1 season-opening victory over Utah (0-1) Friday night in the Sun Devil Volleyball Classic at Wells Fargo Arena. The 30-21, 30-23, 28-30, 30-24 victory also gave first-year head coach Brad Saindon a victory in his ASU win.

The Sun Devils broke a four-match skid in the opening match of the year and are now 23-8 all-time during season openers. ASU is 1-0 to open the season and will face Ohio (12 p.m.) and San Diego (7 p.m.) Saturday to complete tournament play.

'This was a great win for us against a real quality opponent,' said Saindon, a 1976 graduate of Arizona State. 'We had some momentum swings where we didn't give up and were able to stay strong all the way through the end of the match. It is a memorable first victory in my ASU head coaching career and one that I will cherish. We will hopefully improve off of tonight's match and continue to get better.'

Watkins, a sophomore outside hitter from Mishawaka, Ind., demolished her previous career high of two aces with the seven against the Utes Friday. Her seven service aces are third most in ASU single-match history.

Escobar (Brasilia, Brazil) led all player with 24 kills, tying for third best in the rally scoring era (2001-P). The 2002 All-Pac-10 performer also had eight digs and two blocks for 26.5 total points. Redshirt junior outside hitter Natalie Harris (Tempe, Ariz.) added 17 kills and six digs to help pace the balanced Sun Devil offense.

Senior middle blocker Mandy Stephens (Napa, Calif.) contributed 12 kills for the second best performance in her ASU career and added five total blocks. Stephens hit at a scorching .647 (12-1-17) clip to help the Devils to a team .349 hitting percentage. Senior libero Courtney Blocher (Scottsdale, Ariz.) led all players with 11 digs.

The Utes were led by senior middle blocker Kim Turner. The Chandler native and graduate of Dobson High School tied for the team lead with 13 kills on a .259 hitting percentage (13-6-27). Junior Lyndsey Henderson also had 13 kills on a .500 hitting percentage (13-3-20).

UTAH  (0-1)	21	23	30	24ASU  (1-0)	30	30	28	30ASU Statistical Leaders:KILLS: Escobar (24), Harris (17)ASSISTS: Cheryl Anglin (29), Melo (22)Digs: Blocher (11), Escobar (8)TOTAL BLOCKS: 20 (Stephens 5)SERVICE ACES: 13 (Watkins 7)Attendance: 639

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