Volleyball Opens Pac-10 Play With Road Matches At Washington And Washington State

Sept. 15, 2003

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    What's On Tap:
    The Arizona State Volleyball team opens Pac-10 play this weekend with a pair of tough road matches at Washington (9-0) and Washington State (3-6) this weekend. ASU is coming off a perfect 3-0 weekend to win the SMU Radisson Volleyball Classic in Dallas, Texas. ASU opens its 18th season of play in the Pac-10 and the first under head coach Brad Saindon. ASU ended the non-conference portion of its 2003 schedule with a 5-4 record. The Sun Devils return home next weekend to host rival Arizona (#16) to start a three-match home stand.

    A Tough Road Ahead:
    The Pac-10 currently has six teams ranked in the top 25, and ASU will face all six in its next seven matches. The Devils open on the road this weekend at No. 14 Washington, then return home for matches against Arizona (#16), Stanford (#4) and California (#12). The Devils will face defending national champion USC (#1) and UCLA (#9) on the road Oct. 10-11.

    A Note About Pac-10 Openers:
    In 17 years of competition in the Pac-10 Conference, Arizona State owns an all-time 12-5 record in league season openers. The match against No. 14 Washington to open the 2003 Pac-10 season marks the third time in the last four years that ASU will open the conference slate with a ranked opponent. ASU and the Huskies last met in a Pac-10 opener in 1998 with the Devils escaping with a 3-2 win. ASU owns an all-time 144-162 record in Pac-10 play and is coming off an 8-10 season in 2002.

    Recapping Last Weekend:
    The Sun Devils bounced back from a rough first two weeks to go 3-0 and capture the championship at the SMU Radisson Volleyball Classic held in Dallas, Texas. ASU did not lose a game in the three-match tournament, defeating Tennessee-Chattanooga, Stephen F. Austin and SMU in straight sets. Senior middle blocker Mandy Stephens was named the tournament MVP, averaging 3.00 kills per game, averaging one block a game and recording a .587 hitting percentage. Junior outside hitter Natalie Harris led ASU averaging 4.00 kills per game and senior Kim Mehlhorn had her best weekend of the year with 31 kills.

    A Look at Washington:
    Website | Roster | Stats
    The Huskies enter the weekend with a perfect 9-0 record and are ranked No. 14 in the nation in the current USA Today/AVCA national poll. UW's quick start includes a three-game sweep of nationally ranked Wisconsin and a 3-1 win over Ohio (beat ASU 3-1). Junior outside hitter Sanja Tomasevic leads the Huskies and the Pac-10 with 6.26 kills per game and 2.52 digs per game. Washington is coming off a 20-11 season in 2002 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. UW is led by third-year head coach Jim McLaughlin. ASU is 18-20 all-time against Washington and is 7-7 in the last 14 matches played in Seattle.

    A Look at Washington State:
    Website | Roster | Stats
    The Washington State Cougars enter the weekend with a 3-6 record after going 2-1 in last weekend's Cougar Mania Invitational in Pullman. Battling through injuries and the graduation of nearly their entire starting lineup, the Cougars have struggled during the preseason with losses to San Francisco, Wichita State, No. 18 Missouri, Saint Louis and Utah Valley State. The Cougars posted an impressive win over nationally ranked and previously unbeaten Loyola Marymount over the weekend and feature the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week (Zanda Bautre). Bautre leads WSU averaging 3.37 kills per game and 3.26 digs per game. ASU leads the all-time series against the Cougars by a narrow 18-17 margin, but are 5-10 at Bohler Gym dating back to 1989 and have lost the last four matches to the Cougars. WSU is coming off a record season in 2002, ending the year with a 24-8 record and advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament.

    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. The last Sun Devil to record seven aces in a single match was All-American outside hitter Amanda Burbridge against Minnesota in the 2000 NCAA Tournament (12/2/00). Watkins has been one of ASU's most consistent players through the first nine matches of the year, averaging 2.41 kills per game and has recorded 10 or more kills in five matches. She is also third on the team averaging 0.38 service aces per game and 2.97 points per game.

    Stephens Named MVP of SMU Radisson Volleyball Classic:
    Senior middle blocker Mandy Stephens (Napa, Calif.) 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%). She recorded one of the best matches of her career in the three-game win over SMU when she tallied 10 kills (.625 attack percentage) and a career-high six blocks. For the season, Stephens is averaging 2.31 kills per game and leads ASU with 0.88 blocks per game. In her last four matches, Stephens is averaging 3.08 kills per game.

    Escobar and Harris Named To All-Tournament Team in Reno:
    Arizona State outside hitter Juliana Escobar and Natalie Harris were named to the all-tournament team at the SBC/Sands Regency Volleyball Classic last weekend in Reno, Nev. Escobar (Brasilia, Brazil) averaged 3.50 kills and 3.83 digs per game during the three-match tournament. The senior is averaging 3.70 kills per game in 2003 to rank second on the team. Harris (Tempe, Ariz.) averaged 4.75 kills per game (57 total) during the tournament, including a career high 24 against Tennessee.

    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 nine matches, Escobar is averaging 3.61 kpg and 3.26 digs per game. She has recorded 10 or more kills in six of the eight matches she has played in and four double-doubles.

    A Career Day and Year For Natalie Harris:
    Redshirt junior outside hitter Natalie Harris likes to set career highs in bunches. In 2002, Harris recorded a career best performance against UCLA (11/21/02) when she tallied 22 kills and 17 digs. Harris tied her career high with 17 digs against Tennessee and set a new high with 24 kills. She also had 27.5 points and four total blocks vs. the Lady Vols. For the season, Harris leads ASU averaging 4.06 kills per game and 2.55 digs per game. She has seven matches with 10 or more kills and is tied for the team lead with four double-doubles.

    Quick Sets:

  • Senior OH Kim Mehlhorn has 10 or more kills in four of her last five matches (3.06 kpg).
  • 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 3,805 assists.
  • Juliana Escobar has recorded a double-double in 20 of her 34 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 is only 34 digs shy of becoming only the 13th Sun Devil with 1,000 digs.
  • ASU has outscored its opponent 890-813 in the nine matches this year and led in kills in all but one match.
  • Mehlhorn is ranked ninth among active players in the Pac-10 with 675 career kills. Escobar is 13th (532).
  • Mandy Stephens ranks sixth in the Pac-10 with her .410 hitting percentage and Harris is fifth with 4.06 kpg.
  • Saindon compiled a 181-112 (.618) record at Colorado (1986-96) and led CU to six NCAA Tournaments.
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