Volleyball Makes Pac-10 Debut Vs. WSU Friday

Sept. 20, 2005

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THIS WEEK: The second-ranked Washington volleyball team (9-0) opens the Pac-10 season on the road with in-state rival Washington State (7-4) on Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 pm at Bohler Gym. The Cougars are coming off a 3-1 weekend, while the Huskies swept No. 6 Hawaii in two road matches over the weekend. Washington has not lost a game this season, winning all 27 games it has played. Last season, the Huskies set a school record with 22 match victories to open the year. They won all seven of their non-conference matches in straight sets, before dropping one game to UCLA and two games to USC in the opening weekend of Pac-10 play.

A LOOK BACK: Washington passed its first test of the season last week with two sweeps over sixth-ranked Hawaii on the road. The wins marked just the second and third in UW history in 11 meeting against the Rainbow Wahine and the first since 1992. Christal Morrison (Puyallup, Wash.) led the Huskies with 5.17 kpg and 35 points. Brie Hagerty (Defiance, Ohio) and Sanja Tomasevic (Uzice, Serbia and Montenegro) added 4.67 and 4.50 kpg, respectively. Junior Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) guided Washington to a .301 hitting percentage, while posting 17.17 apg, well above her nation-leading 15.19 assists per game. In addition to her 103 assists, she added 19 digs (3.17 dpg) and five blocks (0.83 bpg) to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. Sophomore middle blocker Alesha Deesing (Salem, Ore.) also had a strong weekend against Hawaii as she led the squad with a .405 hitting percentage with 3.33 kpg and 2.00 dpg. Senior Candace Lee (Eugene, Ore.) led the defense with 5.67 dpg.

SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE: The Cougars are 7-4 this season and are coming off a 3-1 record over the weekend. WSU has relied heavily on its block and leads the Pac-10 with 4.05 bpg. Jen Barcus leads the team with 3.22 kpg and a .310 hitting percentage, while Natalia Owens averages 3.07 kpg. Gwen Davis and Maureen Perez share setting duties and average 8.91 and 4.37 apg, respectively. Jalen Pendon headlines the defense with 4.51 dpg. The Huskies lead the Cougars 47-21 in the all-time series and have won the last four in a row.

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 two first-place votes for a total of 1,435 points. Nebraska held onto top billing with 1,498 points, including 58 first-place votes. 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.

AND THEN THERE WERE NINE: Washington is one of nine schools without a loss this season. Other undefeated teams include No. 1 Nebraska, No. 7 Louisville, No. 8 Missouri, No. 19 Purdue, No. 22 Brigham Young, Florida Atlantic, Maryland and New Orleans.

HUSKIES AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS: Washington leads the country in hitting percentage (.427) and ranks second in kills per game (17.67) and third in assists per game (16.04). Junior setter Country Thompson leads the country with 15.19 apg and Christal Morrison's 0.69 service aces per game rank 17th.

WASHINGTON PACES THE PAC-10: The Huskies lead the Pac-10 in every statistical category except blocks (Washington State) and digs (Arizona State). Washington paces the league in hitting percentage (.427), opponent hitting percentage (.074), assists (16.04), kills (17.67) and service aces (2.26). Sophomore Alesha Deesing leads the Pac-10 with a .547 hitting percentage, while junior Courtney Thompson leads the conference with 15.19 assists per game.

HUSKIES KEEP OPPONENTS IN THE RED: Washington has held its opponents to a negative hitting percentage three times this season and no team has hit in the .200's. All totaled, UW opponents are hitting .072, while the Huskies are leading the country with a .427 hitting percentage. Montana State has had the most luck of any team against the UW defense with a .165 hitting percentage on Aug. 27. UW opponents have recorded 257 kills and 191 errors, while Washington has collected 477 kills and just 86 errors.

SMOKIN' SERVES: The Huskies have logged 61 aces through the first nine matches of the season while only giving up 16 aces to their opponents. Sophomore Christal Morrison leads the way for Washington with 18 aces, while Courtney Thompson has nine aces and Sanja Tomasevic has eight. Tomasevic ranks third on the UW all-time career chart with 131 aces and is 15 away from the school record held by Genne Terry (146, 1982-86).

BIG DIGGERS: Senior libero Candace Lee tallied 34 digs over the weekend to bring her career total to 1,620 and take over the No. 4 spot on the Pac-10 all-time list. She is one dig away from the No. 3 spot held by former Oregon State Beaver Rachel Hochgesang (1,621, 1993-96) and 82 digs away from the No. 2 spot held by former USC standout Katie Haller (1,702, 1990-03). Former UCLA Bruin Chrissie Zartman holds the all-time career record with 2,065 digs from 2001-04. Lee already holds the season (666, 2004) and career (1,620) records at Washington. If the season were to end today, Lee would hold the Pac-10 record for digs average with 4.55 dpg. Zartman holds the record with 4.46 dpg.

Senior Sanja Tomasevic had 19 digs against Hawaii to take over the No. 5 spot on the UW all-time career list. She has 984 digs in her career and is 16 digs away from joining the 1,000 dig club. If she can do it, she will become just the fifth person to tally 1,000 digs in a career and would be just the third Husky to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.

SETTING THE TABLE: Junior Courtney Thompson's 3,643 career assists ranks second on the UW all-time chart behind Melinda Beckenhauer who collected 3,707 assists from 1987-89. She has 410 assists this season and leads the nation with 15.19 apg. Thompson has broken 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. If the season were to end today, Thompson would hold the Pac-10 record for career assists per game average with 14.51 apg. The current record holder is UCLA's Erika Selsor who averaged 14.00 apg from 1998-2001.

BUILDING BLOCKS: Senior Darla Myhre (Victoria, B.C.) had eight blocks over the weekend to bring her career total to 365, which ranks fourth on the Washington all-time list. Lisa Underhill (1998-01) holds the No. 3 spot with 415 blocks. Three Huskies rank among the league's top-10 in blocks, including Alesha Deesing (fourth, 1.48 bpg), Myhre (seventh, 1.21 bpg) and Sanja Tomasevic (eighth, 1.20 bpg)

BROWNIE POINTS: Senior Brie Hagerty had 30 points over the weekend to take over the No. 2 spot on the UW career list with 1,026 points. She is just the third UW player to collect 1,000 points in a career. Sanja Tomasevic holds the record with 1,704.5 career points.

PERFECT IN FARGO: Washington swept through tournament play at the Doublewood Inn Classic in Fargo, N.D. to win a share of the tournament title. South Dakota also finished the tournament with a 3-0 record. The Huskies defeated host North Dakota State, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Sam Houston State in straight sets and have yet to loss a game all season. Junior setter Courtney Thompson was named the tournament Most Valuable Player as she dished 140 assists over nine games for a 15.56 assists per game average. She also collected 11 digs and five blocks over the weekend. Senior Sanja Tomasevic and sophomore Christal Morrison were also named to the all-tournament team. Tomasevic averaged 2.75 kills per game, 1.75 digs per game and 1.12 blocks per game, while Morrison led the team with 4.12 kpg and a .552 average.

UW WINS SHARE OF NIKE INVITATIONAL: The Huskies went 2-0 at the Nike Invitational to share a portion of the tournament title with Oregon State, who also went undefeated. Washington defeated Davidson and Portland in straight sets. Junior setter Courtney Thompson was named the tournament Most Valuable Player, while senior middle blocker Darla Myhre was also selected to the all-tournament team. Thompson averaged 13.67 assists per game and 2.00 dig per game. Myhre averaged 1.50 kills per game, 1.17 blocks per game and hit at a .538 clip. Other top UW performers included Sanja Tomasevic with 4.83 kpg and 2.00 bpg and Brie Hagerty with 4.75 kpg.

UW WINS HUSKY CHALLENGE: Washington opened the season with 3-0 sweeps over Gardener-Webb and Montana State to win the Husky Challenge, Aug. 27. The Huskies broke four records in the season-opener vs. Gardner-Webb and broke or tied two of those records the next day vs. Montana State. UW defeated GWU in straight sets on Aug. 26 and broke the NCAA record for consecutive serves when Courtney Thompson led the Huskies on an 18-0 run in the first game and served 18 times in a row. The previous record was 17 serves set in 2004. Washington won the first game 30-8, marking the least number of points allowed by UW in a single game since rally scoring was introduced in 2001. The Huskies broke the school record for least number of points allowed in a match (31) as well with the 30-8, 30-11, 30-12 victory. Washington also broke for UW record for hitting percentage when the Huskies combined for a .537 clip. The team broke the hitting percentage record the next night with a .566 average and tied the record for least number of points in a game when they held Montana State to just eight points in the first game.

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 91-39 record at UW over four seasons, a 173-82 career record as a women's coach (8 years) and 315-157 career record at the college level (men's and women's teams, 15 years).

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 and Christal Morrison (Puyallup), All-American setter Courtney Thompson and All-American libero Candace Lee (Eugene, Ore.).

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 and honorable mention pick Darla Myhre. 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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