Washington Huskies 2003 Volleyball Outlook

Aug. 20, 2003

WASHINGTON HUSKIES

TEAM PREVIEW
For the first time since 1997, the Huskies posted a 20-win season and appeared in the NCAA Tournament. Pac-10 Coach of the Year Jim McLaughlin will take four returning starters (plus libero) in quest of another successful season in 2003.

STRENGTHS

  • Versatile and dependable junior outside hitter Sanja Tomasevic will pace the Washington attack. She was one of only two players to be ranked among the league's top ten in kills (413/3.82 kpg), service aces (41/0.38 sapg) and digs (353/3.27 dpg). Senior Kara Bjorklund (153 kills/2.19 kpg) and junior Kaitlin Leck (163 kills/1.96 kpg) give Washington a veteran attack unit.
  • Junior Alexis McDonald will patrol the middle. She posted quality numbers last season hitting .327 in collecting 210 kills (2.08 kpg). In addition, she ranked fifth in the Pac-10 as she recorded 123 total blocks (1.22 bpg).
  • Defensively, the Huskies are set with sophomore libero Candace Lee and senior defensive specialist Libba Lawrence. Lee ranked fourth in the Pac-10 and led all Pac-10 freshmen a year ago with 375 digs (3.57 dpg).

    CONCERNS

  • A vital cog to last season's success was All-Pac-10 setter Gretchen Maurer. She'll need to be replaced. Freshman Courtney Thompson will get her feet wet in a hurry as she is the only setter on the roster. No returning player posted more than 23 assists last year.
  • Replacing AVCA All-American Paige Benjamin. Benjamin hit .330 and collected a school single-season record 573 kills last year. She was a big reason the Huskies established a single-season record by hitting .287 last season.

    ACCORDING TO COACH McLAUGHLIN
    'We've accomplished a lot in the last two year and have made a lot of progress. But we had a lot of progress to make. Making the NCAA Tournament was big for us, however, our goal is to make a solid run in the tournament each year and for postseason play to be part of the norm.

    'From top to bottom the Pac-10 is tough. Having coached in the Big 12, the Pac-10's standard of play is visibly higher. We've got to come into each night prepared to do battle. We also have to be prepared to face a conference team in the NCAA Tournament. With eight of the Pac-10's teams making the tournament and four of those advancing to the final eight, the proof is in the pudding. The Pac-10 season will be a challenge.'

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