Volleyball Faces Tough Challenge With No. 1 USC And No. 6 UCLA Visiting Tempe

Nov. 4, 2003

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    The Arizona State Sun Devils (8-13, 3-9 Pac-10) return home this weekend to Wells Fargo Arena for a pair of tough matches against No. 6 UCLA (Friday, 7 p.m.) and No. 1 USC (Saturday, 7 p.m.). The Devils are in the midst of a stretch of four straight matches against nationally top-10 ranked teams, as the Pac-10 currently features five teams in the top 15 in the recent AVCA/USA Today poll. The Devils are currently tied for seventh in the Pac-10 with Oregon State (13-11, 3-9 Pac-10).

    Media Exposure:
    ASU's match against UCLA (Friday, 7 p.m.) will be televised live locally on AZ-TV. George Allen and Doug Gerlach will call all the action from courtside at Wells Fargo Arena. This is ASU's third TV match of the year, with ASU going 1-1 in televised matches (Arizona, 9/26; Stanford; 10/31).

    Recapping Last Weekend:
    The Devils played well last weekend, but dropped both matches against then No. 9 Stanford (3-2) and No. 6 California (3-1). Senior outside hitter Juliana Escobar led the Devils averaging 4.56 kpg and 3.56 dpg in the two matches. Junior outside hitter Natalie Harris also had a good weekend, adding 4.33 kpg and 2.11 dpg. Escobar recorded a double-double in each match, including a 22-kill, 27-dig performance in the five-game loss to the Cardinal.

    Almost Making History:
    The Sun Devils almost made history last Friday against Stanford, nearly ending a 17-match losing streak at Maples Pavilion dating back to the start of Pac-10 play in 1986. The Devils fell behind early 2-0, but rallied to win games three and four and pushed the match to a decisive fifth set. The Cardinal eluded the upset by winning the fifth game, 15-9, but not without receiving a huge fight from the Devils. ASU fought off several match points in a 37-35 win in the fourth set. Senior Juliana Escobar led the Devils with 22 kills and 17 digs for her ninth double-double of the year. Natalie Harris led all players with 23 kills. The two games won by ASU marks the most over a Stanford team at Maples Pavilion since a five-game loss in 1983.

    Scouting UCLA:
    Website | Weekly Release | Season Stats
    The UCLA Bruins come to town with an overall 19-4 record and is tied for second in the Pac-10 with a 10-3 mark. The Bruins have won six straight matches, including a pair of four-game wins over Washington State and Washington last weekend. Their excellent record also includes a 5-3 record against ranked opponents. Brynn Murphy leads the Bruins and ranks sixth in the Pac-10 averaging 3.81 kills per game. Middle blocker Cira Wright is tied for fifth in the conference with 1.22 blocks per game. The Bruins are led by the winningest coach in women's volleyball history, Andy Banachowski, who boasts an impressive 958-239 record in 38 years at UCLA. ASU is 6-49 all-time against the Bruins and lost in three games earlier in the year at Pauley Pavilion.

    Scouting USC:
    Website | Season Stats
    Some volleyball prognosticators have this team ranked as one of the best collegiate volleyball teams of all-time. The defending national champion Women of Troy are 22-0 overall and first in the Pac-10 with a 13-0 record. They have lost only three games all year and lead the Pac-10 in six major statistical categories. A balanced offensive attack features Phoenix native Emily Adams (NCAA leader with .479 hitting percentage) and All-American outside hitter April Ross (3.62 kpg). The Women of Troy have defeated ASU in 15 straight matches (dating back to 1995) and lead the all-time series 42-10. USC defeated Washington and Washington State in straight sets last weekend.

    Aces Are Wild:
    Twice 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 Regina Stahl vs. New Mexico in 1984. The performances by Mehlhorn and Watkins both established records under the rally scoring format. For the season, ASU leads the Pac-10 averaging 1.94 aces per game (149 total). The Devils have already surpassed their 2002 total of 122 (27 matches).

    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 4.18 kills per game. She also leads the Devils with 0.42 service aces per game (32 total) and is fourth on the team with 2.50 digs per game. She has 17 matches with 10 or more kills (81% of ASU's matches) and has recorded nine double-doubles. Harris made the all-tournament team at the SBC/Sand Regency Volleyball Classic in Reno, Nev. Harris tied her previous 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 has recorded 10 or more kills in 12 of her last 14 matches and has 539 career kills in 72 matches (2.55 per game average).

    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 (8/29). 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 is fifth on the team averaging 2.10 kills per game and has recorded 10 or more kills in nine matches. She set career highs against Washington State (9/19) with 15 kills (.375), 20.0 points 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 with a .399 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. She had a solid weekend against the Oregon schools after averaging 3.25 kpg on a .478 hitting percentage. She also set a season high with 15 kills (.379) in a five-game win over Oregon State (10/18). For the season, Stephens is averaging 2.25 kills per game and leads ASU with 0.71 blocks per game. She has recorded 10 or more kills in nine matches this year.

    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 21 matches, Escobar is averaging 3.63 kpg and 3.11 digs per game (both second on the team). She has recorded 10 or more kills in 16 matches and leads the team with 10 double-doubles to her credit. She also ranks second in total points (322.5) and third in aces per game (0.36). For her career, Escobar has recorded 696 kills (4.00 kpg) and 565 digs (3.25 dpg) while tallying 26 double-doubles.

    Quick Sets:
    * Senior OH Kim Mehlhorn has 760 career kills, 11th 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 4,145 assists.
    * Juliana Escobar has recorded a double-double in 26 of her 47 (55%) 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 (1,098).
    * ASU leads the Pac-10 with 1.94 service aces per game (149 total after recording only 122 in 2002.)
    * Saindon became only the second coach in ASU Volleyball history to defeat Arizona in his debut.
    * ASU's nine academic All-Americans are fourth most among Division I volleyball programs.
    * Freshman Tierra Burnley had 19 kills last weekend, after recording 14 in her previous seven matches.

    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 NCAA Volleyball Attendance Rankings, ASU ranks 28th with an average crowd of 982 and the 3,225 vs. Arizona is the 50th highest attended match this year.

    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. ASU is 2-1 this year in five-game matches. ASU almost defeated No. 9 Stanford (10/31/03), coming back from a 2-0 deficit before falling 15-9 in the final set.

    Anglin Becomes Second Best Setter in ASU History:
    Senior setter Cheryl Anglin became only the second Sun Devil to record 4,000 assists in a career. 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 4,145 in 104 career matches (10.74 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 7.60 assists per game and has recorded eight matches with 30 or more assists.

    ASU Career Assists:1.	Regina Stahl (1984-87)	5,1802.	Cheryl Anglin (2000-P)	4,1453.	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 seven more digs. Blocher ranks fourth in the Pac-10 averaging 3.42 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.	Courtney Blocher (2000-P)	1,09812.	Amanda Burbridge (1997-00)	1,06013.	Noelle Fridrich (1986-89)	1,050

    The Comeback vs. Arizona:
    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. The Wildcats posted a little revenge with a three-game sweep of the Sun Devils (10/25) in Tucson.

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