At The Net With Christal Morrison

Sept. 21, 2005

Sophomore Christal Morrison has been key to Washington's 9-0 start to the season, including a pair of 3-0 sweeps over No. 6 Hawaii on the road last weekend. She leads the team with 4.12 kills per game, 5.15 points per game and 18 aces. was able to catch up with Morrison to discuss the Hawaii trip and preview the Pac-10 opener vs. Washington State this Friday. Last week's matches against No. 6 Hawaii were your first against a ranked opponent this season. Do you think the team proved that it is worthy of the No. 2 ranking?

Christal Morrison: 'I think we proved that we're one of the top teams in the nation, going in there and doing what we did, but we still have more to prove.'

GH: Were you worried that Hawaii had already played five top-10 teams and you hadn't faced any?

CM: 'No. I knew we were going to go in there and get what we needed to do done, and we did. The awesome part about playing Hawaii and beating them two nights in a row in three games straight was we didn't even play to the best of our ability. We can get better and that's a really good feeling knowing that.'

GH: Hawaii leads the nation in home attendance and averages over 7,000 fans per game. What was it like playing in the most hostile environment in all of college volleyball?

CM: 'It wasn't a problem. I loved it. I love crowds. I want to pack our place out. I want to start getting fans here. Last year we had over 5,000 against Stanford. It was nice though, I like the crowd. Over there in Hawaii, they cheer for good volleyball too. So if there was a good long rally, even if we won it, they'd cheer, so it was fun.'

GH: Do you think that experience will help prepare you for the postseason's large crowds?

CM: 'I think definitely because we know that we probably won't have the same draw as we had here last year with home court four times in a row. But I think it will definitely get us ready for the crowds in postseason.'

GH: Did the team do anything fun in Hawaii?

CM: 'I had fun. I went boogey boarding a little bit and body surfing, trying to catch the waves. It was nice because of the environment. But we knew our limits and stayed in those. No broken fingers. We went out to Duke's on the beach for one night. We dressed up, it was fun.'

GH: What's this I hear about a Hawaiian massage?

CM: 'Oh my gosh, okay. So me and Courtney go to get a massage and we were thinking, `Oh, we'll go into the spa and get a Hawaiian massage.' So we walk in and it was like a movie with these two good looking, ripped Hawaiian guys with necklaces and wraps for our therapists. Courtney and I look at each other like `You've got to be joking me. We're getting massages from these guys?' It was funny, it was fun, and it was very, very relaxing.'

GH: The Pac-10 season opens Friday vs. Washington State. What are some of the team's goals heading into this weekend?

CM: 'Definitely just going in there and starting out the Pac-10 with a win, first of all. I think getting better at the things we're focusing on in practice this week, and seeing that improvement, for sure.'

GH: Is there any sort of rivalry between you and the Cougars?

CM: 'You know, Wazzu's always a rival. But I have so many friends that go to Wazzu, I'm not a Wazzu hater. But we're still going to beat them.'

GH: Which Pac-10 match are you most looking forward to this season?

CM: 'There's a couple of them. I'd have to say Stanford for sure because that was the knife in the heart (losing to them in the Final Four). I want to beat them at their place since they handed us our first loss of the season last year down there in five games.'

GH: The team has yet to lose a game this season through nine matches. Last season the team won all seven of its opening matches in straight sets and set the school record with 22 consecutive match victories to open the season. Is the game win streak something that is on your minds?

CM: 'It's not, actually. I totally forgot about that. It's something good to shoot for but right now I think what's most important is that we just focus on every day, every play. That's kind of our theme, every day, every play.'

GH: Washington leads the country with a .427 hitting percentage, more than 100 points better than the No. 2 team in the country. What do you attribute the team's hitting percentage to?

CM: 'Composure, definitely. We talk about it all the time. Every practice we talk about composure and hitting the ball in. And I think that's what separates our team from a lot of other teams is we stay composed and we don't make mistakes. I mean, we hit the blocks a couple times and get blocked but that's what we do every day in practice, we practice hitting the ball in and staying composed.'

GH: Last year's team was the most successful in Washington history with its first Pac-10 title and first trip to the Final Four. Are those goals the team is talking about this early in the season or are you taking the season one match at a time?

CM: 'Our ultimate goal this year, obviously, is to win the national championship. That's what we're going for and that's what every day is getting us closer to. But there are no matches that we're looking ahead to. The ultimate goal is winning the national championship but we'll take it one day at a time.'

GH: In what areas has this team improved since last season to position itself to win a national championship?

CM: 'Blocking, for sure. And that's one thing going in to Hawaii we knew that we had to get better on the eights, blocking the eights. We were focused on our blocking and getting better there. I think we are getting better all around and the composure, we're getting better there. It's going to be fun.'

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