Volleyball Hits The Road For Shamrock Invitational At Notre Dame

Aug. 29, 2005

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    The Arizona State volleyball team continues its preseason schedule this weekend with The Inn at Saint Mary's Shamrock Invitational hosted by the University of Notre Dame. The Sun Devils will face a pair of nationally prominent programs in the invitational, opening tournament play Friday against No. 11 Texas at 7 p.m. and then the host Fighting Irish Sunday at 2 p.m. ASU is coming off a disappointing weekend going 1-2 at the Fremont Investment & Loan Invitational hosted by Cal State Northridge.

    Recapping Last Weekend:
    Arizona State opened the 2005 season last weekend going 1-2 at the Fremont Investment & Loan Invitational hosted by Cal State Northridge. ASU suffered a pair of three-game sweeps by No. 23 Saint Mary's and UNLV, and recorded a five-game win over the host Matadors. Junior outside hitter Nicole Morton tallied a double-double in each of the three matches and averaged 3.55 kills per game. Sophomore libero Sydney Donahue anchored the defense averaging 5.27 digs per game.

    Series History:
    The Sun Devils are 0-3 all-time against the University of Texas, with the last meeting coming in 1983. The Longhorns are led by former USC head coach Jerritt Elliott. ASU leads the series against Notre Dame 3-0 with the last meeting coming in 1993. The match vs. ASU will be the season opener for Texas, while Notre Dame is 1-0 after a three-game sweep of Michigan.

    A Familiar Name To ASU Volleyball:
    The Sun Devils will play against one of its program legends this weekend when they square off against Notre Dame on Sunday. UND head coach Debbie Brown coached the Sun Devils from 1983-88 and was also an assistant for two seasons in 1980 and 1981. While in Tempe, Brown recorded a 117-83 record and led the Sun Devils to five NCAA tournament appearances. Brown was a member and co-captain of the USA Volleyball National Teams from 1977-80 and was an All-American USC.

    Welcome Back Watkins:
    This weekend will serve as a homecoming for senior outside hitter Sarah Watkins. Watkins is a native of Mishawaka, Ind., which is just outside of South Bend. She played four years of varsity volleyball for Mishawaka High School and earned several all-conference awards during her prep career.

    What Returns From '04:
    The Sun Devils return nearly the entire team from last season with only one regular player being lost to graduation. All total, ASU returns 12 letterwinners and seven players that recorded 10 or more starts last season and the normal libero (Sydney Donahue). Senior setter Giovano Melo is also back for a fifth year of eligibility after suffering a season-ending knee surgery after only three matches last season.

    Quick Sets:

    ... So. MB Colette Meek helped lead Alberta to a bronze medal in the 2005 Canada Games.... ASU will appear on national TV twice this season on FSN -- Arizona (Oct. 7), Cal (Nov. 11).... ASU's Margie Giordano and Texas' Jen Christian are the last two Arizona/Gatorade State Players of the Year.... Libero Sydney Donahue has recorded 10 or more digs in 22 of her 29 career matches.... ASU is 5-3 in five-game matches under Brad Saindon and 12-4 dating back to 2002.... So. MB Colette Meek is averaging 2.00 kpg, 0.67 blocks per game and is hitting .447.

    A Tough Schedule:
    ASU's tough slate for the 2005 season includes 14 of its 30 matches against teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. The Sun Devils will also play 14 matches against eight schools that are ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Top 25 Coaches Poll. Six Pac-10 teams are listed in the preseason top 25, including Washington (#2), Stanford (#3), USC (#7), UCLA (#13), Arizona (#17) and California (#19).

    Coach Saindon:
    Head Coach Brad Saindon is in his third season at the helm of the Sun Devil Volleyball program. Saindon has a career 20-37 record at ASU and an all-time 264-177 record in 15 seasons at the collegiate level. He compiled a career 181-112 record at the University of Colorado from 1986-96, leading the Buffalos to six NCAA Tournaments and two Sweet 16 appearances. Prior to being named ASU's fifth head volleyball coach, Saindon spent time as an assistant coach with the USA Volleyball Men's National program. He was also the head coach of the Australian Women's National Team in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Saindon graduated from ASU in 1976 with a degree in business administration.

    The Coaching Staff:
    Assistant coaches Terri Spann and Jami Coughlin join head coach Brad Saindon as graduates of Arizona State. Both Spann and Coughlin were standout outside hitters for the Sun Devils during their respective collegiate careers. Spann (1994-97) earned All-Pac-10 honors in 1996 and ranks third in the ASU career record books in digs (1,382) and ninth in kills (1,185). Coughlin (1998-2001) ranks second with 1,528 career digs and sixth with 1,360 kills. They are among the elite to ever wear the Maroon and Gold as they are two of eight players in ASU.

    All-Pac-10 Freshmen:
    Setter Rachel Mittelstaedt, middle blocker Colette Meek and libero Sydney Donahue were all named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team last season. Meek led ASU with 1.20 blocks per game to rank fifth in the Pac-10 and broke the ASU freshman record set previously by Laura Hibsman (1.09) in 1996. Donahue shattered ASU's freshman record with 4.36 digs per game and recorded double-digits in digs in 19 matches. Donahue and Meek were first-team selections, while Mittelstaedt was honorable mention.

    Diggin' Donahue:
    Only 29 matches into her career, sophomore libero Sydney Donahue has already proven to be one of the marquee defensive players in school history. Donahue has recorded double-digits in digs in 22 of her 29 career matches (76%) and has six career matches with 20 or more digs. In three matches this season, Donahue is averaging 4.46 digs per game in her career.

    2004 Season in Review:
    The Sun Devils finished the 2004 season with a 10-17 record and tied for seventh place in the Pac-10 with a 5-13 record... both records (overall and conference) were one-game improvements from 2003 under second-year head coach Brad Saindon... the Sun Devils featured a young team with eight newcomers, including seven freshmen... ASU also had two key knee injuries that sidelined senior setter Giovana Melo and outside hitter Natalie Harris for the entire season... Melo is expected to return for a fifth year of eligibility in 2005... libero Sydney Donahue, middle blocker Colette Meek and setter Rachel Mittelstaedt were all named to the All-Pac-10 Freshman team... Donahue and Meek were first-team selections, while Mittelstaedt earned honorable mention honors... junior outside hitter Sarah Watkins was named first-team All-Pac-10 Academic for the second straight year and sophomore outside hitter Nicole Morton earned honorable mention academic honors... Watkins was also named first-team Academic All-District VIII... ASU has 36 all-academic selections dating back to 1986, leading all Pac-10 schools... Morton led the team with 3.53 kills per game and 349.0 points (3.92 per game average)... she also led the team with 20 matches with double-digits in kills and seven double-doubles... Watkins finished second on the team with 2.97 kills per game and ranked second in the Pac-10 with 0.36 service aces per game (31 aces)... Watkins also had 12 matches with 10 or more kills, including a career-high 24 against Washington State (10/16)... Donahue set ASU freshman records with 4.36 digs per game and 375 total digs in her rookie season as the starting libero... she also broke the single-match freshman record with 30 digs against Oregon State (11/4)... she ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in digs per game (4.36) and sixth in service aces per game (0.30)... she also led all Pac-10 freshman in both statistical categories... Donahue recorded 19 matches with 10 or more digs... Meek set the ASU freshman record with 1.20 blocks per game, ranking fifth in the conference... she became the first Sun Devil to average over 1.00 blocks per game since 1998... senior libero Stephanie Kohner ended her career ranking second on the team with 2.36 digs per game... she came on strong near the end of the season recording double-digits in digs in her last three matches... ASU recorded seven or more blocks in 17 matches and the nine double-digit block matches are six more than the entire season output from 2003... the 17.0 blocks against Cal State Fullerton (9/18) were the most total blocks since 2002 (20.5 vs. California)... Meek's 9.0 total blocks against CSF and Oregon State (10/9) are also the most by a single player since Amanda Burbridge and Michelle Mortensen also had nine in a single match in 2000... ASU's tough schedule included 13 matches against ranked opponents... the competitive Pac-10 conference saw the six teams ahead of ASU earn final top 25 rankings and three teams (USC, Stanford, Washington) advanced to the NCAA Final Four in Long Beach, Calif... with Stanford winning the NCAA title, the Pac-10 has now won four straight national championships.

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