TEMPE- Ariz.- Arizona State volleyball (6-0) heads to the Illini Classic in Champaign, Ill. Thursday, Sept. 12 to take on Youngstown State (3-3) at 6 p.m. CT/4 PT. Friday brings a challenging schedule with matches against No. 14 Illinois (3-2) at 10 a.m. CT/8 CT followed by an evening match against No. 2 Texas (4-1) at 5 p.m. CT/3 PT.
The Sun Devils have posted their best record since 1995 with the 6-0 start, going 18-0 in sets so far this season after the sweep of Gonzaga, UNLV and Seattle in the Gonzaga Invitational this past weekend.
About the Youngstown State series-
The game Thursday marks the first meeting between the Sun Devils and Penguins. The Penguins are coming off of two-consecutive losses against Tulane and Toledo. Missy Hundelt leads YSU with 82 kills and 106 digs.
About the Illinois series-
ASU is down, 0-1, in the Sun Devils’ only meeting with the Illini where they fell 3-1 against the Illini in 1987. The fighting Illini have three wins this season over ranked opposition (Florida State, Kentucky, Iowa State), and falling only to No. 14 San Diego and Long Beach State. Jocelynn Birks leads Illinois with 87 kills, averaging 4.58 kills per set.
About the Texas series-
Arizona State is 0-4 in the series against the Texas Longhorns, with their last meeting dating back to 2005 when the Longhorns swept the Sun Devils, 3-0. Texas was preseason No. 1 before the Longhorns fell, 3-1, to Hawaii in the first game of the season. However, the Longhorns are coming off two-consecutive wins against No. 3 Penn State and Pac-12 rival No. 8 Stanford. Bailey Webster and Haley Eckerman lead the Longhorns with 61 and 58 kills, respectively.
After an impressive performance in all three of ASU’s wins in the Gonzaga Invitational, Macey Gardner earner her second Tournament MVP crown in two weeks. The sophomore has 107 kills over 18 sets, averaging 5.94 kills per set, which is the best in the nation. Her performance also scored her the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. This is Gardner's first Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week and Arizona State's 17th all-time honor. Gardner also scored Pac-12 Freshman of the Week twice in her debut 2012 season for the Sun Devils.
Macey Gardner of @SunDevilVB leads the country in kills per set. Good thing she's a Sun Devil.— Jason Watson (@sundevilvbcoach) September 10, 2013
Devils In The Rankings
Arizona State, as a team, ranks fifth in the country in kills per set with the Sun Devils averaging 15 per frame.
Gardner ranks second in the country in points per game with her average of 6.39 per frame.
Senior Stephanie Preach comes in at 28th in the country in digs with her season total 93, averaging 5.17 per set.
Mercedes Binns is 36th in the country with 24 total blocks this season, averaging 1.33 a set.