After Saturday night’s Arizona State volleyball match against No. 11 Washington, it won’t just be the end of the season for the Sun Devils, but the end of a legacy for three former prep stars.
Three seniors on the team played at Valley Christian High — Courtney Blocher, Cheryl Anglin and Kim Mehlhorn — and for four years, starred at ASU. The dynamic trio, along with redshirt junior Natalie Harris, who also played at Valley Christian, have not only permanently left their mark on Sun Devil volleyball, but small-school volleyball in the Valley.
"It’s really sad to think about that just because we’ve played together so long, but Kim and Nat and Cheryl are all like my sisters, and we’ve gone through a lot over the years," Blocher said of leaving ASU. "It just went by so fast. I still don’t believe it."
Nicknamed the "Four Core" while at Valley Christian, Blocher, Anglin, Mehlhorn and Harris blazed through the competition, winning state championships all four years under the tutelage of Deanna Anglin, Cheryl’s aunt and a former ASU volleyball player.
"It’s sad because it’s the end of me playing competitive volleyball, but on the other hand, it’s exciting because it’s the end of something, it’s the beginning of new things," said Anglin, who roomed with Mehlhorn in the dorms and currently shares an apartment with her. "It’s going to be sad not being with these girls every day in the gym and on road trips because you develop such close friendships."
Mehlhorn, Anglin and Harris, who played at Valley Christian from 1996-99, compiled a 142-10 record (.934).
Blocher, the 1999 Gatorade High School Player of the Year, transferred to Valley Christian during her junior season after two years at Coronado. The ASU trio’s run came midway through a stretch when Valley Christian won eight consecutive state titles, starting in 1993.
All four would have hung up their new pads together, but Harris, who is currently ASU’s leader in kills and service aces, suffered a shoulder injury at the beginning of the 2001 season and took a medical redshirt.
"I look at it like a good thing because I get to stay one more year," said Harris, who played with Mehlhorn and Anglin since they were 14. "It won’t be how we thought it would be in the beginning, where we would come in and all leave together."
This year has been a struggle for ASU, which is currently in a tie for eighth in the competitive Pac-10, but the connection between the former Trojans has made the losing a little easier to swallow.
"I’m guessing there’s not four volleyball players in America that know each other as well or play with each other as much as these four girls," said first-year ASU coach Brad Saindon. "I’m happy that I got to spend at least the last year with this group, and they’re terrific examples, in my estimation, of what college athletics is and maybe should be about."