Volleyball’s UA vs. ASU match-up to get TV coverage

Fox Sports has made it easier on Phoenix-area volleyball fans to continue following the career of the state’s top high school player, Xavier Prep’s Stephanie Preach.

Preach, the Arizona Republic’s Big School Player of the Year in 2009, will be playing for Arizona State this season and it was just announced that Fox Sports Net and Fox College Sports will broadcast the annual Territorial Cup Match with University of Arizona.

The rivalry match, scheduled for Oct. 1 at McHale Center in Tucson, will give both schools a chance to showcase a couple of top-notch recruiting classes.

It will also give ASU a chance to avenge last year’s losses when the Wildcats swept the Sun Devils.

Preach is part of an ASU recruiting class that also included Danica Mendivil, a 6’1″ outside hitter from Utah who led her high school team to a state championship in her senior year and was named the state tournament MVP, and Kylee Terhune, a 6’1″ middle blocker from New Mexico where her high school squad was runner-up for the state title last season.

The Sun Devils struggled last year, finishing the 2009 campaign with a 13-17 record overall and 3-15 in conference.  They will be counting heavily on strong performances from returning outside hitter Sarah Reaves, who will be a senior, and sophomore Ashley Kastl, also an outside hitter.

Both are local products.  Reaves came to Tempe by way of Ironwood High School in Glendale.  She led the ASU team in kills in her freshman and sophomore years and last year collected her third Pac-10 Team Honorable Mention honor.  Kastl, from Mountain Pointe HS in Phoenix where she was a Central Region Player of the Year, earned an honorable mention on the Pac-10 All-Freshman team last season.

And another local standout will continue in the critical role of setter.  Cat Highmark returned to the Valley last year to earn a roster spot on the ASU squad as a walk-on after playing a year at Long Beach State.

Highmark was an All American at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, where she led the Firebirds to state titles in three of her years there and was named the Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year and Arizona Republic Big School Player of the Year as a senior.

Down the road, UofA was having a little more success in 2009.

The Wildcats broke into the national rankings at No. 25 early in the season and worked their way up to the No. 19 spot by season’s end, finishing with a 19-10 record, 8-10 conference.

They played in their first NCAA Tournament in four years, losing in the first round to an unranked team from Texas A&M.

The Cats will have a trio of seniors for the coming season to go with a solid recruiting class.  Outside hitter Tiffany Owens had 306 kills and 335 digs in the regular season; setter Paige Weber finished with 1,138 assists and 44 blocks; and Whitney Dosty, the opposite hitter, overcame early-season injuries to record 204 kills through 65 conference sets.

In addition, libero Alanna Resch returns after setting the team mark last year with 350 digs and Jacy Norton, who recorded 100 total blocks, will also be back.

The recruiting class includes Tarryn Luafalemana, a 6’2″ middle blocker from California; Marketa Hanzlova, a 6’1″ junior college transfer from Idaho; and Maddie Lozano, a middle blocker from California.

Luafalemana is a highly-touted prospect who recorded 151 kills, 91 digs, and 60 blocks her senior year to lead her high school to a 21-9 record.  Hanzlova was a two-time NJCAA All-American who led North Idaho College in kills (357) and aces (37) last year.  Lozano appeared in 67 matches as a senior, finishing with 72 total blocks and 129 kills.