Huskies Head To Bay Area In Battle For Pac-10 Title

Nov. 21, 2006

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THIS WEEK: The second-ranked Washington volleyball team (24-3, 14-2 Pac-10) hits the road for the final Pac-10 matches of the season vs. No. 3 Stanford and No. 14 California. The Huskies are currently tied for first place in the league standings with Stanford with identical 14-2 records. The winner of Friday''s 7 p.m. match at the Maples Center will guarantee at least a share of the Pac-10 crown and two wins for either team this weekend would clinch the title outright. Washington has won the last two Pac-10 Conference titles, both years with one match leads over second place Stanford. The Huskies will also take on California on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the conference finale. Friday's match vs. Stanford will be broadcast on FSN on a tape-delayed basis and will air on Saturday at 3 p.m. Saturday's match vs. California will be tape-delayed on Comcast SportsNet on Sunday at 7 p.m.

SELECTION SUNDAY: The NCAA will announce the 64-team field for the 2006 NCAA Women's Volleyball National Championship on Sunday, Nov. 26. The announcement will be made on ESPNews at noon. Fans can watch the broadcast on the Dish Network (channel 142) or on Direct TV (channel 207). Some cable providers also offer ESPNews. The Pac-10 Champion will earn the league's automatic berth, while all other Pac-10 teams will need to receive at-large berths to battle for the 2006 NCAA Championship.

SCOUTING STANFORD: The Stanford Cardinal (23-3, 14-2 Pac-10) are tied with Washington for first place in the Pac-10 standings with two matches to go in the regular season. Stanford is led by Cynthia Barboza with 4.43 kills per game, while Foluke Akinradewo logs 3.78 kpg and 1.47 blocks per game. Senior Kristin Richards averages 3.61 kpg for the Cardinal and adds 3.17 digs per game. Jessica Fishburn anchors the defense with 3.86 dpg, while Bryn Kehoe dishes 13.12 assists per game and chips in 2.67 dpg. Stanford leads the Pac-10 with 1.70 service aces per game with Barboza's 41 aces (0.41 sapg) leading the way. The Cardinal also rank second in the league in hitting percentage (.290), and are tied with UW for second in opponent hitting percentage (.152). Washington swept Stanford in Seattle on Sept. 22 but the Cardinal lead the all-time series 39-8.

SCOUTING CALIFORNIA: The California Golden Bears (19-8, 8-8) bounced back from a three-game skid to defeat Oregon State and Oregon on the road last week. Angie Pressey headlines the offense with 4.47 kpg, while Hana Cutura and Morgan Beck average 3.96 and 2.77 kpg, respectively. Samantha Carter runs the offense and dishes 13.32 apg, while libero Jillian Davis anchors the defense with 5.02 dpg. California ranks third in the Pac-10 with 3.32 bpg and is led by Ellen Orchard with 1.52 bpg and Beck with 1.15 bpg. The Huskies swept California in Seattle on Sept. 21 and lead the all-time series 25-21.

MORRISON NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Outside hitter Christal Morrison was been named the Pac-10 Volleyball Player of the Week for Nov. 13-19, Commissioner Tom Hansen announced Monday. Morrison, a junior from Puyallup, Wash., led the Huskies two a 2-0 mark over the weekend, with a 3-1 win over Arizona and a 3-0 sweep over Arizona State. The Huskies are now 14-2 in Conference play, 24-3 overall, and share the Conference top spot with Stanford. The All-American led Washington in its victory over Arizona with a career-high 28 kills and posted 17 digs, marking her 14th double-double of the season and eighth in the last nine matches. She followed up that performance with 17 kills on 33 swings with no errors the next night against the Sun Devils for a season-high .515 hitting percentage. For the weekend, Morrison averaged 6.43 kills per game, 6.93 points per game, and boasted a .415 hitting percentage. This is the fourth weekly honor for Morrison, her third of the season, and Washington's 20th Pac-10 Player of the Week all-time. Morrison is just the ninth Pac-10 volleyball player to receive three or more Player of the Week honors in a single season.

THOMPSON BREAKS PAC-10 CAREER ASSISTS RECORD: Senior All-American Courtney Thompson recorded 46 assists vs. Arizona State last week to bring her career total to 6,238 assists, which is a Pac-10 Conference record. Thompson surpasses former record-holder Erika Selsor of UCLA who dished 6,234 assists from 1998-2001. Thompson moves into 10th on the NCAA all-time career assists list and is 63 assists from the No. 9 spot (6,361, Sheri Sanders, Long Beach St., 1986-89) and 112 assists away from the No. 8 spot (6,340, Cindy Cox, Colorado State, 1985-88). Thompson already holds the UW single-season assists record (1,643, 2004). If her career were to end today, Thompson would also hold the NCAA record for assists per game average with 14.67 apg. Former Colorado standout Kelly Campbell holds the NCAA record with 14.45 apg from 1996-99.

UW RANKED SECOND IN AVCA NATIONAL POLL: With a pair of wins over the Arizona schools last week, the Huskies held on to their No. 2 ranking in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll (Nov. 20), including 10 first place votes. Washington also maintained its No. 2 ranking in the Molten/Volleyball Women's College Top 20 Poll (Nov. 19).

HOME SWEET HOME: Washington has won all 13 of its home matches this season, extending its home win streak to 29 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). Nine of Washington's 13 home wins this season have come via the 3-0 sweep.

FULL HOUSE: Washington broke the school's attendance record Oct. 13 when 6,216 fans packed Bank of America Arena to see the Huskies sweep Washington State. The attendance mark is the third-highest in Pac-10 history and surpasses Washington's old attendance record of 5,712 fans set vs. Stanford in 2004. The Huskies average 2,256 fans per match, which leads the Pac-10 and ranks eighth nationally.

HUSKIES AMONG PAC-10 LEADERS: Washington leads the Pac-10 Conference in hitting percentage (.303), assists (16.57 apg) and kills (17.49 kpg), and ranks second in opponent hitting percentage (.152). In Pac-10-only matches, the Huskies lead the league in assists (17.05 apg), kills (17.84) and digs (18.52). Senior Courtney Thompson leads the Pac-10 with 15.02 apg, while junior Christal Morrison ranks second in kills (4.85 kpg) and points (5.58 ppg). In conference-only matches, Tamari Miyashiro ranks third in digs (6.19).

MORRISON CLIMBS UW KILLS LIST: Junior All-American Christal Morrison moved into fourth on the UW all-time kills chart last week, surpassing Dragana Djordevic who collected 1,305 kills between 1991-95. Morrison's career total stands at 1,334 and she is 146 kills away from tying Laurie Wetzel (1,580, 1985-88) for third on the UW all-time list.

THOMPSON JOINS 1,000-DIG CLUB: Senior Courtney Thompson picked up her 1,000th career dig vs. Arizona State last week to become just the sixth Washington Husky to amass 1,000 digs in program history.

THOMPSON JOINS 6,000-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. She recorded her 6,000 career assist vs. Oregon State on Nov. 2, becoming just the second person in Pac-10 history to do so.

ACE IN THE HOLE: Courtney Thompson has 24 service aces this season to bring her career total to 112, which ranks seventh on the UW all-time list. Christal Morrison leads the Huskies with 27 aces this season and ranks eighth on the UW all-time list. Junior Ashley Aratani (Honolulu, Hawaii) has also been effective at the service line, notching 22 aces.

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 15 times this season and has 14 double-doubles. She currently ranks second in the Pac-10 with 4.85 kpg and 5.58 ppg, and ranks fifth with 0.30 sapg. The Mizuno Wildcat Classic Most Valuable Player in September, Morrison has littered her name throughout the UW career record book, with the second-highest points per game average (5.16), and kills per game average (4.42), and the 10th-best hitting percentage (.301) in Husky history.

MORRISON NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK, THREE TIMES: Christal Morrison has earned three Pac-10 Player of the Week awards this season, most recently earning the award after helping the Huskies defeat Arizona and Arizona State, Nov. 16-17 to help UW extend its home win streak to 29 matches. The All-American led Washington in its victory over Arizona with a career-high 28 kills and posted 17 digs, marking her 14th double-double of the season and eighth in the last nine matches. She followed up that performance with 17 kills on 33 swings with no errors the next night against the Sun Devils for a season-high .515 hitting percentage. For the weekend, Morrison averaged 6.43 kills per game, 6.93 points per game, and boasted a .415 hitting percentage. She also won the award after helping UW topple No. 5 USC and No. 4 UCLA, Oct. 26-27. Against USC, Morrison led Washington with 17 kills and a career-best 21 digs. She continued to play well the next night vs. UCLA as she tallied 25 kills, just one shy of her career record, and recorded 13 digs. For the weekend, Morrison averaged 5.25 kills per game, 4.25 digs per game and 5.88 points per game. She also earned the award for the week of 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 and 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. Morrison is just the ninth Pac-10 volleyball player to receive three or more Player of the Week honors in a single season.

MARVELOUS MUSSIE: Junior transfer Stevie Mussie (Puyallup, Wash.) ranks second on the team with 4.07 kpg, while chipping in 2.60 dpg and 4.58 ppg. She has led or tied for the team lead in kills 11 times this season, including a season-high 27 kills vs. Oregon (Nov. 3). Mussie has 19 double-figure kill performances, including seven matches with 18 or more kills. She also has 14 double-digit dig matches and has 12 double-doubles. Mussie 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 15 starts for the Huskies this season and averages 2.12 kpg, 0.70 dpg and 0.95 blocks per game. She has six double-figure kill performances, including 13 kills vs. Arizona (Oct. 20), and three matches with six or more blocks, including eight vs. USC (Sept. 29).

DAZZELING DEESING: Junior middle blocker Alesha Deesing (Salem, Ore.), a first team All-Pac-10 and honorable mention All-Pacific Region selection last year, has started every match for the Dawgs this season, averaging 2.68 kpg, 1.11 bpg and a .401 hitting percentage, which ranks fourth in the Pac-10. Deesing currently ranks second on the UW all-time hitting percentage chart with a .396 clip, and ranks fifth on the career list in blocks per game (1.17), seventh in career points (663) and eighth in points per game (3.13). She has 15 double-digit kill performances, including 18 kills vs. UCLA (Oct. 27), and has tallied six or more blocks six times, including 11 vs. Oregon (Nov. 3).

TENACIOUS TAMARI: Redshirt freshman Tamari Miyashiro (Honolulu, Hawaii) anchors the UW defense with 5.35 dpg and has led the team in digs 21 times this season. Miyashiro was named the Mizuno Wildcat Classic Libero of the Tournament on Sept. 1, and 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 25 double-figure dig performances, including 36 digs vs. Oregon (Nov. 3), 33 digs vs. UCLA (Oct. 27) and 30 digs vs. USC (Sept. 29) and Arizona (Nov. 16). Miyashiro ranks fourth in the Pac-10 overall in digs per game, while her 5.35 dpg average ranks first on the UW single-season all-time list and second on the career chart behind Lee (5.92, 2002-05).

STELLAR SWARBRICK: Sophomore middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick (El Dorado, Calif.) leads the team with a .419 hitting percentage, which ranks third in the Pac-10. She averages 2.72 kpg and leads UW with 1.33 bpg, which ranks seventh in the conference. Swarbrick has led Washington or has tied for the team lead in blocks 15 times, including eight block performances vs. Texas (Aug. 26), UC Davis (Sept. 15), USC (Sept. 29) and Arizona State (Nov. 17).

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 is in 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 138-43 record (.762) at UW.

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.

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.

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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