Volleyball Opens 2006 Season Vs. Ohio

Aug. 22, 2006

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THIS WEEK: The No. 3 Washington volleyball team opens the 2006 season on the road when it travels to Madison, Wis. to participate in the prestigious invitation-only AVCA College Volleyball Showcase. The Huskies open play vs. No. 15 Ohio on Friday, Aug. 25 at 5 p.m. (CT), while No. 8 Texas and No. 9 Wisconsin will play the nightcap match at 7:30 p.m. (CT). Friday's winners will play for the tournament championship on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m., while Friday's losers will play the consolation match at 5 p.m (CT). All four matches will be broadcast on CSTV.

SCOUTING OHIO: The Ohio Bobcats are ranked 15th in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Top-25 Coaches Poll after a 2005 season in which they tied for the national lead with 33 victories. The Bobcats advanced to their first regional final last season where they fell to Arizona in five games. Ohio is the unanimous favorite to repeat as league champions this season in the Mid-America Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. The team is led by setter Savanah Parra, outside hitter Stephanie Blackburn and middle blockers Melissa Griffin and Amanda Anderson. Parra set Ohio single-season records last season with 1,704 assists and 14.69 assists per game and was an honorable mention College Volleyball Update National Setter of the Year selection. Blackburn was a first team All-MAC pick after averaging 3.56 kills per game and 3.71 digs per game. Griffin was a second team All-MAC selection after averaging 3.58 kpg and 0.90 blocks per game. Anderson was named the MAC Freshman of the Year after recording 2.38 kpg and 0.98 bpg. Washington leads the all-time series vs. Ohio, 1-0, with a 3-1 victory in 2003.

SCOUTING TEXAS: The Texas Longhorns are ranked eighth in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Top-25 Coaches Poll after bowing out of the 2005 NCAA Tournament in the second round against Hawaii, 3-1. The team returns three All-Americans in middle blockers Brandy Magee and Leticia Armstrong and setter Michelle Moriarty. Armstrong led the Longhorns with 135 blocks and 1.36 bpg last season. Magee led the team with a .377 hitting percentage, which ranked 24th in the nation and third on the school's all-time list. She also ranked second in kills (321) and kpg (3.19). Moriarty recorded 1,392 assists in 2005, the eighth-highest single-season total in UT history. Moriarty's 13.38 assists per game average ranked 10th nationally, as she led the Horns to a .272 team hitting percentage. Texas leads Washington in the all-time series, 3-1, including a 3-1 win over the Dawgs in 2001.

SCOUTING WISCONSIN: The Wisconsin Badgers are ranked ninth in the CSTV/AVCA Preseason Top-25 Coaches Poll after falling to the Huskies in the regional final last season. The Badgers, who are picked to finish second in the Big Ten race behind Penn State, return four starters , including outside hitters Audra Jeffers and Maria Carlini, libero Jocelyn Wack and middle blocker Taylor Reineke. Jeffers was named to the 2005 Big Ten All-Freshman team after leading the team with 3.38 kpg, while Carlini averaged 3.13 kpg and 2.92 dpg. Wack anchored the Badger defense with 5.17 dpg and holds the NCAA record for consecutive matches with double figure kills (64). Reineke was an All-Big Ten selection after averaging 1.72 bpg. Washington leads Wisconsin in the all-time series, 3-1, including the Huskies 3-0 win in the 2005 regional final.

UW RANKED THIRD IN CSTV/AVCA TOP-25 POLL: The Huskies are ranked No. 3 in the preseason CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll, receiving 16 first-place votes. The Huskies, who won the program's first national title last season, return three starters, including two-time All-Americans Courtney Thompson (Sr., S, Kent, Wash.) and Christal Morrison (Jr., OH, Puyallup, Wash.). Washington also welcomes transfer Janine Sandell (Sr., OH, London, England) who earned All-America honorable mention honors last season and was the Big West Conference Player of the Year for UC Santa Barbara.

HUSKIES PICKED TO FINISH THIRD IN PAC-10: The Washington volleyball team, the 2005 NCAA Champion and two-time defending Pacific-10 Conference champion, is predicted to finish third by the league's coaches in the 2006 conference race behind Stanford and UCLA. Stanford, the 2005 Pac-10 runner-up, is predicted to win the championship, receiving 89 points, including eight first place votes. The Cardinal finished one match behind Washington last season with a 16-2 Pac-10 record. UCLA, the only team to defeated Washington in 2005, is picked to finish second after receiving 79 points, including the two remaining first place votes. Washington was right on the Bruins' heels with 76 points, followed by California in fourth with 64 points and USC in fifth with 62 points. Arizona (48), Oregon State (41), Oregon (32), Arizona State (30) and Washington State (19) round out the poll. The coaches have correctly picked the Pac-10 champion in 10 of the previous 17 polls.

MULTI-TALENTED MORRISON: Junior outside hitter Christal Morrison is coming off her best season yet in a Huskies uniform, earning Most Outstanding Player honors at the NCAA Championship after leading UW to its first national title in 2005. Morrison ranked second in the Pac-10 with 55 service aces and ranked fifth in the league with 5.29 ppg and 4.36 kpg. Her .337 hitting percentage ranked sixth in the Pac-10. With two seasons left to play, Morrison has already littered her name throughout the UW career record book, with the third-highest kills per game average (4.23) and eighth-highest hitting percentage (.304) in Husky history.

SETTING THE TABLE: Senior Courtney Thompson broke the Washington career assists record last season and is the only Husky to amass 4,000 career assists. Her 4,841 career assists rank sixth in Pac-10 history and she is eight dishes away from the No. 5 spot held by former UCLA Bruin Ann Boyer (4,849, 1986-89). Thompson already holds the UW single-season assists record (1,643, 2004). If her career were to end today, Thompson would also hold the Pac-10 record for assists per game average with 14.58 apg. The current record holder is UCLA's Erika Selsor who averaged 14.00 apg from 1998-2001.

SANDELL JOINS UW ROSTER: Senior outside hitter Janine Sandell joins the Washington roster after transferring from UC Santa Barbara where she was the 2005 Big West Player of the Year and an All-America honorable mention selection. Sandell averaged 5.26 kpg last season, which led the Big West and ranked eighth nationally. Her 572 kills ranked fourth on the UCSB all-time list.

DEESING DOMINATES AT NET: Junior middle blocker Alesha Deesing (Salem, Ore.) was a first team All-Pac-10 and honorable mention All-Pacific Region selection last season after averaging 2.54 kpg, 1.29 bpg and 3.28 ppg. Her .402 hitting percentage ranked second in the conference, while her blocks per game average ranked fifth. Deesing is on pace to set the UW career hitting percentage record with a .392 clip.

COACH Jim McLaughlin: Jim McLaughlin begins his sixth year at the helm of the Washington volleyball program after leading the 2005 Huskies to their first-ever NCAA National Championship and repeating as Pacific-10 Conference Champions. The Huskies finished the season with a 32-1 record and cruised through the postseason, winning all six matches by 3-0 scores, an NCAA record, to win the national title. The national championship marked the second for McLaughlin, who led the 1990 USC men to the national title. He is the only coach in NCAA history to win titles with both men and women. McLaughlin joined the Washington program in 2001 and inherited a team that finished last in the Pac-10 standings in 2000. In five seasons, he has led the Huskies to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including the 2004 national semifinal and 2005 championship, and has built Washington into one of the nation's premier volleyball programs. He has won three Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards (2005, 2004, 2002) and was the 2004 National Coach of the Year. At Washington, McLaughlin has rebuilt the program from the ground up to become just the third UW program to win an NCAA national championship, joining women's crew and football. Over five seasons, McLaughlin has developed 13 All-Americans, five Academic All-Americans and 19 All-Conference players. He has also led the Huskies to the No. 1 national ranking both in 2004 and 2005. McLaughlin has a 114-40 record at UW over five seasons.

HUSKIES TO HOST NCAA REGIONAL: Washington, home of the 2005 Women's Volleyball National Champions, has been selected as one of four sites to host a 2006 regional tournament. The 10,000-seat Bank of America Arena will serve as the venue site for three matches, Dec. 8-9, from which the winner will advance to the Women's Volleyball Championship in Omaha, Neb. The other three sites chosen to host a regional include Gainesville, Fla. (Stephen C. O'Connell Center), Honolulu, Hawai'i (Stan Sheriff Center) and Austin, Texas (Gregory Gym). The 2006 selection marks Washington's second time hosting since the NCAA moved to predetermined regional sites in 2003. The Huskies last hosted a regional in 2004, the season Washington advanced to its first-ever Women's Volleyball Championship.Tickets will be on sale at the first home match on Sept. 7 vs. Portland State.

UW ON THE TUBE: The Pacific-10 Conference and FSN have selected two University of Washington volleyball matches to be televised as part of its 10-match line-up. Washington's match against Stanford on Sept. 22 will kick-off the Pac-10/FSN television package, while its match vs. UCLA on Oct. 27 has also been selected for broadcast. Both games will take place in Seattle at 7 p.m. Ten Pac-10 matches will be shown on FSN throughout the season beginning Sept. 22 and running through Nov. 24. All matches will be televised on a delayed basis. The Nov. 24 game will be a wildcard match with the featured match-up announced on Nov. 13. Washington's road match vs. Stanford is up for the wildcard spot.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The 13-player Washington roster includes six returning letterwinners and three returning starters. The 2006 team includes two seniors, five juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen. The team represents six states and two countries, including Washington (5), Hawaii (2), Oregon (2), California (1), Texas (1), Utah (1) and London (1).

2005 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS: Washington won its first NCAA national title last season behind a record-setting postseason run as the Huskies became the first team in NCAA Tournament history to win all six of its matches in three games. UW finished the season with a 32-1 record and won its second straight Pac-10 title with a 17-1 league mark. Four Huskies earned All-America honors, including first team outside hitter Sanja Tomasevic, first team setter Courtney Thompson, second team libero Candace Lee and third team outside hitter Christal Morrison. Jim McLaughlin was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year and Tomasevic was selected as the Pac-10 Player of the Year.

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