No. 2 Volleyball Hosts The Husky Challenge To Open 2005 Season

Aug. 23, 2005

THIS WEEK: The Washington volleyball team opens the 2005 season at home when it hosts the Husky Challenge, Aug. 26-27. Montana State, Gardner-Webb and Wyoming will take part in the tournament. The Huskies face Gardner-Webb on Friday and Montana State on Saturday with both matches slated for a 7 pm start.

SCOUTING GARDNER-WEBB: Gardner-Webb and the Huskies will face each other in the season opening match for both teams on Aug. 26. The Bulldogs return five starters and seven letterwinners from a 2004 squad that went 5-26 overall and 0-10 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Sophomore rightside hitter Ashley Pridgeon is GWU's top offensive returner as she led the 2004 team with 2.95 kpg and chipped in 58 aces. Senior middle blocker Deshay Duddy averaged 2.00 kpg and sophomore outside hitter Audra Harrison added a team-leading 2.87 dpg and 1.79 kpg last year. This will be the first-ever meeting between Gardner-Webb and Washington.

SCOUTING MONTANA STATE: Montana State and Washington square off in the second game of the season for both teams on Aug. 27. The Bobcats return four starters and eight letterwinners from the 2004 squad that finished 19-8 overall and 10-4 in the Big Sky Conference. Senior middle blocker Megan Zantro headlines the MSU offense and was a first team All-Big Sky selection in 2004 with 3.32 kpg and 1.49 bpg. Junior Kandice Kelly will anchor the Montana State defense at libero after averaging 4.71 dpg last season. The Bobcats also return senior Meggie Malyurek to the outside hitter position. Malyurek averaged 3.05 kpg and 3.24 dpg in 2004. The Huskies and Bobcats have played 22 times before with Washington holding the 15-7 edge. The teams have not meet since 1996 when UW won 3-1 on the road.

UW RANKED SECOND IN CSTV/AVCA TOP-25 POLL: The Huskies are ranked No. 2 in the preseason CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll, receiving 15 first-place votes. The Huskies, who advanced to the program's first Final Four last season and finished the year with a No. 3 national ranking, return six starters and four All-Americans. Last season, the Huskies were ranked No. 1 for seven weeks, marking the first time in the program's history that the Dawgs held the top spot.

HUSKIES PICKED TO DEFEND PAC-10 TITLE: Washington, coming off its first Pac-10 title in 2004, was picked to repeat last season's performance by a vote of the league's coaches. The Huskies, who were one of three teams to represent the Pac-10 in last year's Final Four, picked up five more points than second-place and 2004 NCAA Champion Stanford. Washington also claimed eight of the ten first-place votes, with the Cardinal receiving the other two. Stanford's 83 points were trailed by USC, picked third with 68 points. Arizona, who made its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance last season, held fourth position with 67 points. UCLA was selected in the fifth slot after receiving 63 points, followed by California with 53 points. Rounding out the poll were Arizona State, Oregon State, Oregon and Washington State, respectively.

UW FIELDS FOUR ALL-AMERICANS: Washington is the only program in the country to field four All-Americans in 2005. The Huskies return All-American outside hitters Sanja Tomasevic (Uzice, Serbia & Montenegro) and Christal Morrison (Puyallup), All-American setter Courtney Thompson (Kent) and All-American libero Candace Lee (Eugene, Ore.).

DIG DEEP: Senior libero Candace Lee is 21 digs away from breaking into the Pac-10's top-five career list. Lee, who ranks seventh all-time in the conference with 1,508 career digs is 13 digs away from No. 6 Holly McPeak (1,521) and 21 away from No. 5 Jami Coughlin (1,528). Former UCLA standout Chrissie Zartman holds the all-time career record with 2,065 digs from 2001-04. Lee already holds the season (666, 2004) and career (1,508) records at Washington. If the season were to end today, Lee would hold the Pac-10 record for digs average with 4.58 dpg. Zartman holds the record with 4.46 dpg.

SETTING THE TABLE: Junior Courtney Thompson broke the UW season assist records each of the last two years. Last season, Thompson dished 1,643 assists, breaking her 2003 record of 1,590. She led the Pac-10 and ranked third nationally with 14.67 apg. Through two seasons, Thompson has the highest assists per game average in Pac-10 history (14.43). The current record holder is UCLA's Erika Selsor who averaged 14.00 apg from 1998-2001. Thompson's 3,233 career assists ranks second on the UW all-time chart behind Melinda Beckenhauer who collected 3,707 assists from 1987-89.

COACH Jim McLaughlin: Jim McLaughlin begins his fifth year at the helm of the Washington volleyball program and is coming off a record season in which he guided the Huskies to their first-ever Final Four appearance and Pacific-10 Conference championship. McLaughlin was named the 2004 National Coach of the Year and received the Pacific Region and Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards. McLaughlin joined the Washington program in 2001 and inherited a team that finished last in the Pac-10 standings in 2000. In four seasons, he has led the Huskies to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including the 2004 national semifinal, and has built Washington into one of the nation's premier volleyball programs. A 15-year veteran head coach, McLaughlin has proven his ability to recruit talented student-athletes and cultivate championship programs. He has made 14 appearances in the NCAA postseason, including four with Kansas State, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2000. He also spent seven seasons as the men's head coach at USC, where he won the 1990 national championship and finished as runner-up in 1991. At Washington, McLaughlin has the same lofty goals. The program has made tremendous strides in just four short years, ranking No. 1 for seven weeks last season. McLaughlin has developed five All-Americans, three Academic All-Americans and 15 All-Conference players in that time. McLaughlin has an 82-39 record at UW over four seasons, a 164-82 career record as a women's coach (8 years) and 306-157 career record at the college level (men's and women's teams, 15 years).

ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The 17-player Washington roster includes 11 returning letterwinners and five returning starters, plus the libero. The 2005 team includes six seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen. The team represents six states and three countries, including Washington (5), California (3), Hawaii (2), Oregon (1), Indiana (1), Ohio (1), British Columbia (1) and Serbia & Montenegro (2).

2004 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS: Washington finished the 2004 season with a 28-3 record and won its first Pacific-10 Conference Championship with a 16-2 record. The Huskies set program records for best start and consecutive wins when it opened the season with 22 straight victories. Washington made its first Final Four appearance where it lost to eventual national champion Stanford in the national semifinal match. Three players earned All-America honors, including first team setter Courtney Thompson, second team outside hitter Christal Morrison and honorable mention libero Candace Lee. Five Huskies were named to the All-Pac-10 teams including first team selections Thompson, Morrison, Lee and Brie Hagerty (Defiance, Ohio) and honorable mention pick Darla Myhre (Victoria, British Columbia). Morrison was the Pacific Region and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and head coach Jim McLaughlin was the National Coach of the Year. Washington boasted the highest attendance average in the conference and fifth-highest in the country with 3,211 fans per game. The Huskies had over 5,000 in the stands twice.

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