The last time the Sun Devils travelled to Washington, they defeated the No. 5 Washington Huskies.
And while the stakes aren’t nearly as high for this weekend’s Gonzaga Invitational, ASU isn’t taking the tournament lightly.
ASU will face Seattle, UNLV and Gonzaga in the second leg of its nine-game road stretch that opens up the 2013 season.
The tournament starts Friday evening against the Seattle Redhawks, who went 2-1 in their opening tournament.
Seattle will play without former Redhawk Andi Lowrance, who is now a Sun Devil. It will be Lowrance’s first match against her former team.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, honestly,” Lowrance said. “I still talk to some of those girls, and it’ll be a great game, so I’m excited for it.”
Lowrance, a sophomore middle blocker, grew up in Phoenix and returned to the area to play with ASU after a year in Seattle. She played in 21 games and started 11 times for the Redhawks, totaling 81 kills and 31 blocks in her tenure.
Seattle coach James Finley said he appreciates the work Lowrance did as a Redhawk.
“She did a nice job this spring and stayed and worked out with us and helped us develop a new culture here,” he said.
Saturday’s matches start with the UNLV Rebels, who finished third in the Mountain West Conference last year with an 18-11 overall record.
UNLV returned six starters from 2012, and are 2-1 so far after defeating Cal State Fullerton and Portland last weekend.
ASU has quite a history against the Rebels, having played them seven times since 1978. The Rebels lead the all-time series 4-3.
Finally, the Sun Devils take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who despite their 0-3 record, nearly defeated the No. 5 Huskies last Saturday.
ASU is favored in the matchup, The Sun Devils are expected to defeat Gonzaga, however, after the Bulldogs went just 1-15 in West Coast Conference play in 2012.
ASU coach Jason Watson said he is refusing to overlook the Bulldogs.
“They’ve got these two really nice outside hitters,” Watson said. “We have our hands full with them.”
Several of the current Sun Devils will remember defeating the Bulldogs last season in their final non-conference matchup. Sophomore outside hitter Macey Gardner contributed 24 kills in the four-set victory while senior libero Stephanie Preach and sophomore setter Allison Palmer combined for 33 digs.
Look for Saturday morning’s match against to UNLV to give ASU some potential problems, as the Sun Devils had trouble adjusting to the quick turnaround against Wichita State last weekend.
“You’ve got to go play at 10 in the morning after you played at 7 at night, so it takes a little while to get kind of going,” Watson said.
The tournament begins at 4 p.m. Friday in Spokane, Wash.
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