TEMPE, Ariz.—The Arizona State volleyball team (19-13, 8-12 Pac-12) is set to take its 17th trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history this week, traveling to Hawaii for the opening round.
The Sun Devils will take on BYU (22-6, 15-3 WCC) at 8 p.m. MT at the Stan Sheriff Center.
This marks first time the Sun Devils have picked up back-to-back bids since the 1999-2000 seasons.
ASU is one of nine schools from the Pac-12 Conference to get a bid to the tournament, which leads the nation and is also a league record.
Also in the pod are site host and No. 11 seed Hawaii (24-4), who will face Idaho State (23-11) on Saturday, Dec. 7 as part of first round action.
The winners will play on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 10 p.m. MT for a chance to advance to the third round match in Los Angeles, Calif. on Dec. 13.
The Cougars closed out the regular season dropping a 3-2 battle to San Diego in the WCC Championship game.
Alexa Gray leads the team with 414 kills on the season while Camry Godfrey has tossed up 1168 assists.
ASU and BYU last met on Oct. 25, 1999, with the Cougars coming out with the 3-1 win in Tempe. The Sun Devils last defeated BYU on Oct. 3, 1988, 3-1, in Provo, Utah.
The Rainbow Wahine (26-4, 13-3 Big West) clinched a share of the Big West Conference title with its 3-0 win over Cal State Fullerton last week.
Emily Hartong posted a double-double with 16 kills and 11 digs while Nikki Taylor added 13 kills for the Rainbow Wahine who had to go extras in set three to complete the sweep.
ASU is 1-7 all time against Hawaii. The two teams last met in 1998 with the Rainbow Wahine taking the 3-1 decision. The Sun Devils’ lone win over Hawaii came on Nov. 4, 1983 in straight sets.
About Idaho State
Champions of the Big Sky, the Bengals (23-11, 14-6 Big Sky) dropped only two sets in their conference tournament last week in Portland, Ore.
Idaho State defeated Northern Colorado, 3-1 before topping North Dakota in four sets. The Begnals then defeated regular-season champion Portland in straight sets to win their first conference title since 1990.
Tressa Lyman leads the team with 452 kills on the season while Lori Mendenhall-Lee has added 1384 assists.
ASU is 3-0 all-time against Idaho State. The teams last met a season ago, with the Sun Devils coming out on top of the five set battle in their 2012 season opener.
Sun Devils Versus The Field
In addition to ASU’s eight opponents from the Pac-12, four more teams from ASU’s 2013 schedule are a part of the 64-team field.
The teams are No. 1 seeded Texas, No. 13 seeded Illinois, Wichita State, and Alabama State. ASU went 3-1 against the four teams this season, defeating Texas, Wichita State, and Alabama State in straight sets, and falling to Illinois in a five-set battle.
Last Time Out
Last week, the Sun Devils split the final two games of the regular season, triumphing over California in four sets at home before falling to Pac-12 rival Arizona in Tucson.
Against the Bears, ASU opened with two extremely efficient sets, hitting .486 in the first set and .414 in the second. Macey Gardner led the way with 22 kills while Nora Tuioti-Mariner recorded a new season high with 16.
Tuioti-Mariner’s hitting percentage of .640 marks the seventh-highest individual percentage in the conference this season.
In the match against Arizona, ASU came out with a win in the second set, but couldn’t come out on top in a pair of highly-contested frames as the Wildcats picked up half the Territorial Cup point.
The Final Countdown
Stephanie Preach is only 15 digs away from hitting the mark of 2000 digs in her career at ASU.
If Preach is successful in the postseason, she will join Sydney Dohahue, who played from 2004-07, as one of the only two Sun Devils to hit the 2000 mark. Donahue finished her career with a Pac-12 record 2358 digs.
In addition, Preach will have accomplished this impressive feat with only three years of competition as ASU’s starting libero. Preach is also the lone Sun Devil to surpass the mark of 1000 digs in the span of her three seasons as libero.
Preach’s Career Digs By Season:
2010 (as setter): 231 digs
2011: 610 digs (No. 4 Single-Season)
2012: 619 digs (No. 5 Single-Season)
2013: 525 digs (No. 9 Single-Season)
Watson In The Postseason
Head coach Jason Watson is one of five Sun Devil coaches to appear in the NCAA postseason. He joins Brad Saindon (2003-07), Patti Snyder-Park (1989-2002), Debbie Brown (1983-88) and Dale Flickinger (1979-82) since the inception of the NCAA.
This marks Watson’s fifth appearance in the NCAA postseason in his career as a head coach, and he has a 4-4 record.
The Cougar Connection
Jason Watson’s four postseason wins came during his coaching tenure at ASU’s NCAA opponent, BYU. There, Watson’s teams picked up one win in 2006 and three in 2007.
Heating Up The Polls
This season, the Sun Devils had previously been ranked every week between Sept. 16 and Oct. 24 in the AVCA Division I volleyball polls.
ASU’s move to No. 15 in the Sept 30, 2013 poll constitutes the highest ranking since 1995 where the Sun Devils, led by Patti Snyder-Park, made it into the Sweet 16.
ASU’s debut at No. 18 in the polls was the first top-25 ranking since Nov. 4, 2002.
Stifling Sun Devils
After leading the league for most of the regular season, ASU slipped to third overall in the league in opponent hitting percentage at .172.
In Oct. 4 contest with Oregon State, the Sun Devils held the Beavers to a scant eight points in the second set, which marks the lowest ASU has held a squad in a set this season.
Racking Up The Kills
Macey Gardner has totaled 479 kills so far this season, and is second in the league in kills per set with a clip of 4.52. Gardner also sits in fourth in the conference in points per set with an average of 4.72. Additionally, both marks rank Gardner nationally: 13th in kills per set and 25th in points per set.
Setter Bianca Arellano has posted 12 double-doubles this season, which places her in a tie for sixth-most in the conference. Arellano posted a career high 55 assists on Oct. 12 at Utah. Arellano’ has matched her career high in assists two more times this season, recording 55 in matches against California (Nov. 27) and at Arizona (Nov. 29).
Gardner Has Career Night
Macey Gardner picked up a new career high in kills at 29 in the five-set battle with Utah on Oct. 24. Gardner was one kill away from tying the single-game kill record (per the rally scoring era) of 30, set by Sarah Reaves in a match against Western Kentucky on Sept. 20, 2008.
Gardner’s previous career high of 28 from the match at UC Irvine on Aug. 31, 2012, marks the ASU freshman record, which is shared by Reaves, who recorded the same mark in a match against Oregon on Sept. 27, 2007.
Watch Out For Tuioti-Mariner
Nora Tuioti-Mariner has emerged as a force on the court for the Sun Devils, picking up 30 kills in a span of three matches, second most on the team. At Utah, Tuioti-Mariner recorded 14 kills, and 14 digs, both season highs at the time.
2013 Sweep Count
On the season, the Sun Devils have swept their opponent en route to 15 of their wins. Notably, the then-unranked squad defeated then-No. 2 Texas in straight sets at the Illini Classic on Sept. 13.
Attacking The Warhawks
Arizona State’s blistering attack percentage of .374 in the win over Louisiana Monroe during the ASU Marriott Invitational (Sept. 20) ranks as the fifth-highest performance at ASU in the rally-scoring era (2001).
ASU Opens with Program-Best Start Since 1997
The Sun Devils began the 2013 season with a 7-0 start, the program’s best since Patti Snyder-Park’s 1997 squad posted the same record.
Starting with A Sweep
The Sun Devils recorded a sweep in each of its first seven wins this season, marking the longest stretch of wins without relinquishing to start a season during the rally-scoring era, which was instituted in NCAA Volleyball in 2001.
Arellano Named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week
Bianca Arellano was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week following her performances in the Illini Classic. The sophomore recorded 13-digs, 32-assists for her fourth double-double performance in the 3-0 sweep of then No. 2 Texas Longhorns. Arellano also added a season-high six kills in the match win.
Arellano, a Phoenix-native newcomer to the Sun Devils, also posted 40 assists and 20 digs in the five-set setback to host team No. 14 Illinois, after leading ASU to a win by totaling 29 assists. Arellano average 4.90 digs and 9.18 assists per set, as ASU went 3-1 in the Illini Classic.
Gardner Named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week
Sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, the conference office announced Monday, Sept. 9. Gardner, a native of Gilbert, Ariz., was named the Most Valuable Player of the Gonzaga Invitational where she averaged 5.94 kills and 7.06 points per game, while hitting .367 over three matches. Gardner had three-consecutive 20-kill outings, including 22 in a 3-0 win over UNLV. She hit .452 in that match, committing just three errors.
Ranked Teams vs. Watson
Head coach Jason Watson has grabbed 10 wins over ranked teams in his tenure at Arizona State. Most recently, the Sun Devils snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over Oregon on the road in Eugene, Ore.
Notably, ASU topped defending national champion and then-No. 2 Texas, 3-0, at the Illini Classic on Sept. 13. This marks the second time in Watson’s tenure that ASU has defeated the No. 2 team in the country, as the Sun Devils defeated Cal, 3-2, during the 2011 season.
Top-25 Wins Under Watson
Oct. 25, 2008 at No. 24 Oregon State.........W 3-0
Sept. 25, 2009 No. 14 UCLA* ...................W 3-0
Oct. 15, 2010 No. 5 USC* .........................W 3-1
Oct. 16, 2010 No. 10 UCLA* .....................W 3-1
Nov. 24, 2011 at No. 2 California* .............W 3-2
Nov. 2, 2012 No. 6 USC*............................W 3-0
Nov. 21, 2012 at No. 5 Washington*...........W 3-1
Aug. 31, 2013 No. 24 Wichita State ……..W 3-0
Sept. 13, 2013 No. 2 Texas ……………….W 3-0
Nov. 1, 2013 No. 23 Oregon ...........................W, 3-1
The Sun Devils closed out the non-conference slate at home, hosting the Marriott Invitational, Sept 20-21. Arizona State picked up straight-set wins over Cal Poly, Alabama State and Louisiana-Monroe, and Bianca Arellano was named tournament MVP. Stephanie Preach and BreElle Bailey were named to the All-Tournament Team.
ASU earned its first marquee win of the year to close out the Ilini Classic, defeating the defending national champion and then No. 2 ranked Texas in straight sets.
In the second tournament, the Sun Devils trekked to Spokane, Wash., for the Gonzaga Invitational, Sept. 6-7. ASU defeated Seattle and UNLV in straight sets before executing the sweep of host-Gonzaga. Macey Gardner was voted tournament MVP for the second time this season while Bianca Arellano was voted to the All-Tournament Team.
ASU opened its 2013 season with a tournament win over the Utah Valley La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational, defeating Utah Valley and North Dakota State before upsetting then No. 24 Wichita State, Aug. 30-31.
Macey Gardner was named Tournament MVP, while Stephanie Preach and BreElle Bailey were named to the All-Tournament Team.