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Volleyball heads north for tournament


The ASU volleyball team heads up to Missoula, Mont., this weekend for the University of Montana Classic, where it will take on North Dakota and Southern Methodist on Friday before finishing the weekend against tournament host Montana on Saturday.

The Sun Devils (5-1) are 2-1 on the road this year, and coach Jason Watson has put an emphasis on team chemistry on the road, where crowds are hostile and can have a big effect on a team’s psyche.

“We’re continuing to try to create this identity that we’re going to out-team people,” Watson said. “I think we really made some nice strides last weekend — the challenge for us is to come together on the road. I thought we did a nice job at home, but it’s trying to manufacture that competitive nature on the road that will be key.”

The Sun Devils’ spirits are high after easily winning the ASU Sheraton Classic last weekend, but the team knows it can’t become overconfident.

“[Winning the Sheraton Classic] definitely boosted our confidence, especially since that weekend at Utah when we had the defeat,” junior libero Sarah Johnson said. “We definitely boosted our confidence, but we should of beat those teams, because we’re at a higher level of play. We should’ve beat them, and we did.”

There is no direct flight from Phoenix to Missoula, so the Sun Devils had a layover Thursday in Salt Lake City and weren’t scheduled to get to practice in Montana’s gym until 9 p.m. Thursday, only 13 hours before their first match.

“It’s a long travel day,” Watson said. “We get this practice time from 9 to 10 o’ clock at night, which isn’t ideal when you have to play at 10 o’ clock the next morning, but it is what it is and we’ll have to make do.”

The Sun Devils’ first match will be against UND early Friday morning.

The Sioux (5-2) field a diverse attack, with four players having recorded more than 50 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Devin Trefz leads UND with 92 kills, followed by sophomore outside hitter Annika Smed’s 68 kills.

Senior setter Megan Langseth has 269 assists so far this year, which is 36 more than ASU has as a team.

ASU and UND have never faced each other on the volleyball court.

ASU takes on SMU on Friday evening for the second match.

The Mustangs (4-4) have a pair of deadly outside hitters in sophomore Dana Powell, who has a Conference USA-best 132 kills, and junior Kathryn Wilkerson, who has 96 kills of her own.

Watson knows stopping that duo will be a big challenge.

“SMU has two very physical outsides,” Watson said. “So that poses some problems for us.”

In the final match, the Sun Devils play tournament host UM, which ASU beat in 2008 and has some familiarity with.

The Grizzlies (3-4) are 3-1 at home and are led by senior setter Taryn Wright, who last year garnered second-team All-Big Sky Conference honors and has amassed 294 assists in only seven matches this year.

Junior outside hitter Amy Roberts was also a second-team All-Big Sky Conference selection last year and is second on the team in kills this year with 77, trailing senior outside hitter Whitney Hobbs’ 96 kills.

Reach the reporter at kyle.glaser@asu.edu.


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