No. 4 Huskies To Take On No. 3 UCLA & No. 5 USC

Sept. 26, 2006

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THIS WEEK: The fourth-ranked Washington volleyball team (12-1, 2-0 Pac-10) heads south to take on third-ranked UCLA (15-0, 2-0 Pac-10) and fifth-ranked USC (13-0, 2-0 Pac-10), Sept. 28-29. The teams are in a three-way tie for first place in the conference after picking up a pair of wins in the opening week of Pac-10 play. The Huskies, who have won the last two Pac-10 titles, take on the Bruins for the first time since suffering its only loss of the season to UCLA last year in a five-game barn burner. The Bruins were picked by the conference coaches to dethrone the Huskies this season, which would mark their first conference title since sharing it with Stanford in 1999. The Women of Troy won back-to-back Pac-10 and NCAA Championships in 2002 and 2003.

SCOUTING UCLA: The third-ranked UCLA Bruins (15-0, 2-0 Pac-10) are on a 15 match winning streak and have lost just three games all season. Nana Meriwether leads the nation with a .557 hitting percentage from the middle, averaging a team-high 4.32 kills per game and 1.64 blocks per game. Three other UCLA players are averaging three or more kills, including Ali Daley (3.43 nkpg), Kaitlin Sather (3.41) and Katie Carter (3.38 kpg). Nellie Spicer runs the Bruin offense and dishes 13.89 assists per game, while Laura Kroneberger headlines the defense with 4.17 digs per game. UCLA leads Washington 39-10 in the all-time series. Last year, the teams split with each winning on their home turf. The UW loss at Pauley Pavilion marked the only loss of the season for the Huskies as UCLA pulled out the 34-32, 30-27, 28-30, 25-30, 15-13 victory.

SCOUTING USC: The fifth-ranked USC Women of Troy (13-0, 2-0 Pac-10) boast a 13-match winning streak, including a five-game thriller at Oregon last week. Asia Kaczor headlines USC's offense with 4.52 kpg and a .337 hitting percentage, while Diane Copenhagen and Jessica Gysin average 3.89 and 3.20 kpg, respectively. Taylor Carico runs the offense and chips in 12.30 apg, while Debora Seilhamer anchors the defense with 6.00 dpg. USC leads Washington 31-12 in the all-time series but the Huskies have won three of the last four meetings.

UW RANKED FOURTH IN NATIONAL POLLS: The Huskies held onto their No. 4 ranking in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll (Sept. 25), after 3-0 victories over No. 6 Stanford and No. 8 California last week. Washington picked up one spot in the Molten/Volleyball Women's College Top 20 Poll (Sept. 25), moving into fourth.

MORRISON NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Outside hitter Christal Morrison (Puyallup, Wash.) was named the Pac-10 Volleyball Player of the Week for Sept. 18-24 after leading Washington to a pair of 3-0 sweeps over No. 8 California and No. 6 Stanford. On Friday, Sept. 22, Morrison celebrated her 21st birthday with a sweep of Stanford and went on to lead the Huskies with 17 kills on 46 swings with no errors, giving her a .370 hitting percentage. She also picked up 12 digs for her third double-double of the season and collected a pair of blocks. Morrison opened the weekend with a 10-kill performance against California. She went on to add an ace, three digs, and four blocks. The weekend sweep gave Washington its 22nd consecutive match win at home, with all 12 of its wins this season coming from 3-0 sweeps. This weekly honor marked the second for Morrison, and Washington's 18th Pac-10 Player of the Week all-time.

RECORDS WATCH: Courtney Thompson (Kent, Wash.) is 13 digs away from tying Melinda Beckenhauer for ninth on the UW all-time list (873, 1987-89) and 26 digs away from tying Angela Bransom for eighth (886, 1993-96) ... Christal Morrison is 28 kills away from tying Lisa Underhill (1,097, 1998-01) and Lisa McCammond (1986-89) for 10th on the UW all-time career kills list ... Morrison is also four aces away from tying Beckenhauer for 10th on the Huskies' all-time list ... Morrison is 6.5 points away from tying Brie Hagerty (1,269, 2003-05) for second on Washington's all-time career points list.

THOMPSON JOINS 5,000-ASSIST CLUB: Senior All-American Courtney Thompson picked up her 5,000th career assist vs. Morehead State on Sept. 1 to become the first person in UW history and just the fifth in Pac-10 history to accomplish the feat. Her career total stands at 5,433 assists and counting, which ranks second on the Pac-10 all-time list. She is 802 assists away from breaking the conference record held by UCLA's Erika Selsor who tallied 6,234 assists from 1998-2001. 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 14.57 apg. Selsor set the current record with 14.00 apg.

HOME SWEET HOME: Washington has won all six of its home matches this season, extending its home win streak to 22 matches, which is a program record. The Huskies won all 11 matches they played at Bank of America Arena last season and have not lost at home since dropping a five game heartbreaker to USC on Nov. 26, 2004 (28-30, 24-30, 30-25, 30-22, 15-17). All six of Washington's home wins this season have come via the 3-0 sweep.

ACE IN THE HOLE: Courtney Thompson had three service aces over the weekend to bring her career total to 103, which ranks seventh on the UW all-time list. Christal Morrison is also making a run at the top-10 list with 91 career aces, which is four away from the 10th spot held by Melinda Beckenhauer who had 95 aces from 1987-89.

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 has led or tied for the team lead in kills six times this season and has three double-doubles. She currently ranks second in the Pac-10 with 5.41 ppg and ranks third with 0.44 sapg and is fifth with 4.51 kpg. The Mizuno Wildcat Classic Most Valuable Player in September, Morrison has littered her name throughout the UW career record book, with the third-highest kills per game average (4.28) and eighth-highest hitting percentage (.312) in Husky history. She was Pac-10 Player of the Week for Sept. 12-18 after leading UW to a pair of 3-0 sweeps over No. 6 Stanford and No. 8 California.

MARVELOUS MUSSIE: Junior transfer Stevie Mussie ranks second on the team with 4.33 kpg, while chipping in 2.50 dpg and 0.61 bpg. She has led the team in kills six times this season, including 19 kills vs. California (Sept. 21) in the Pac-10 opener, 18 kills vs. Morehead State (Sept. 1) and 17 kills vs. UC Davis (Sept. 15). Mussie ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in kills per game and seventh in points per game (4.94). She transferred to Washington from the University of Pacific after the 2004 season but redshirted last year after undergoing knee surgery.

SPLENDID SANDELL: Senior outside hitter Janine Sandell (London, England) 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. Sandell has made seven starts for the Huskies this season and averages 2.06 kpg, 0.97 dpg and 1.00 blocks per game.

DAZZELING DEESING: Junior middle blocker Alesha Deesing a first team All-Pac-10 and honorable mention All-Pacific Region selection last season, has started every match for the Dawgs this season, averaging 2.61 kpg, 1.05 bpg and a .511 hitting percentage, which ranks second in the nation.

TENACIOUS TAMARI: Redshirt freshman Tamari Miyashiro anchors the UW defense with 4.00 dpg and has led the team in digs nine times this season. Miyashiro was named the Mizuno Wildcat Classic Libero of the Tournament, Sept. 1, after averaging 2.89 dpg. Miyashiro has taken over the starting position at libero after the graduation of two-time All-American Candace Lee who is now a member of the U.S. National Team. Miyashiro has 10 double-figure dig performances, including 23 digs vs. UMBC (Sept. 8) and 17 digs vs. UC Davis (Sept. 15), and ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in digs per game.

STELLAR SWARBRICK: Sophomore middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick ranks second on the team with a .478 hitting percentage, which ranks sixth in the nation. She averages 2.66 kpg and leads UW with 1.34 bpg, which ranks sixth in the conference. Swarbrick has led Washington or has tied for the team lead in blocks eight times, including eight block performances vs. Texas (Aug. 26) and UC Davis (Sept. 15).

ALL-AMERICAN GIRLS: Three All-Americans grace Washington's roster, accounting for five All-America awards. Courtney Thompson is a two-time first team All-American, while Christal Morrison was a second team selection in 2004 and a third team pick last season. Janine Sandell was an honorable mention All-American for UC Santa Barbara last year.

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 126-41 record at UW.

HUSKY CLASSIC RECAP: Washington went 4-0 at the Husky Classic, Sept. 7-9, defeating Portland State, UMBC, North Dakota State and Gonzaga all by 3-0 sweeps. UW won the first match vs. Portland State in its home opener to improve to 24-8 all-time in home debuts and 5-1 in the Jim McLaughlin era. Christal Morrison led the Dawgs with 4.90 kills per game, while Stevie Mussie chipped in 4.22 kpg. Middle blockers Jessica Swarbrick and Alesha Deesing led the Huskies with .545 and .434 hitting percentages, respectively. Swarbrick averaged 3.00 kpg and 1.08 bpg, while Deesing had 2.42 kpg and 1.33 bpg. Senior setter Courtney Thompson paced Washington to a .380 hitting percentage over the weekend and dished 15.92 assists per game. Freshman libero Tamari Miyashiro led the defense with 4.67 digs per game.

HUSKIES SWEEP THROUGH MIZUNO WILDCAT CLASSIC: Washington shared the Mizuno Wildcat Classic Tournament title with 15th-ranked Ohio after both teams finished competition with 3-0 records. The Huskies defeated host Davidson, Morehead State and Liberty in straight sets. Christal Morrison was named the tournament MVP after leading the Dawgs with 4.67 kills per game and 2.89 digs per game. he also tallied six service aces and four blocks and boasted a .461 hitting percentage. Tamari Miyashiro received the Libero of the Tournament award after tying Morrison for the team lead with 2.89 dpg. Miyashiro also led the team with seven service aces. Courtney Thompson was also named to the all-tournament team as she paced UW to a .364 hitting percentage, dishing 13.67 assists per game.

HUSKIES FALL TO TEXAS IN AVCA COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL SHOWCASE CHAMPIONSHIP: Washington defeated No. 15 Ohio, 3-0, in the semifinal of the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase to advance to the championship match vs. No. 8 Texas. With the teams tied at two games apiece, Washington edged out to the 13-11 lead before Texas' Destinee Hooker reeled off four consecutive kills to lift the Longhorns to the 15-13 win and upset over Washington. The loss marked the first for the Huskies since they fell to UCLA on Nov. 12, 2005 and just their second loss since the 2004 season. Junior Stevie Mussie led the Huskies with 3.86 kills per game, while junior Christal Morrison added 3.75 kpg, and sophomore Jill Collymore (Bellevue, Wash.) added 3.14 kpg. Senior Courtney Thompson paced the UW offense with 14.12 assists per game, while leading the defense with 3.88 digs per game. Sophomore middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick led UW, which averaged 3.00 blocks per game, with 1.38 bpg.

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.

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.

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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