Volleyball Defeats Colorado State In NCAA First Round

Nov. 30, 2006

Box Score

BOULDER, Colo.-- The sixth-seeded Washington volleyball team (26-4) defeated Colorado State (20-10) Thursday evening in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the Coors Events Conference Center with game scores of 26-30, 30-26, 30-24, 30-22. The Huskies will play the winner of tonight's Colorado/New Mexico State match in the second round on Friday at 6 p.m. (PT).

The Huskies were led by Stevie Mussie and Pac-10 Player of the Year Christal Morrison with 22 and 19 kills respectively. Sophomore All-Pac-10 selection Jessica Swarbrick added six kills from the middle, while senior Janine Sandell recorded six kills from the outside.

Senior All-American setter Courtney Thompson, the Pac-10's career assists leader, dished 47 assists to move into seventh on the NCAA all-time list. Her career total now stands at 6,380 assists and she is 28 dishes away from the No. 6 spot.

Freshman All-Pac-10 honorable mention libero Tamari Miyashiro anchored Washington's defense with 34 digs, two shy of her career-high. Mussie added 13 digs and Ashley Aratani and Morrison chipped in 10 each.

Sandell led Washington's blocking game with eight block assists, while Swarbrick and All-Pac-10 junior Alesha Deesing tallied seven block assists apiece.

Washington out-hit Colorado State .187-.138 in the match and out-blocked the Rams 15.5-13. The Huskies also took advantage of 10 Ram service errors. CSU held advantages in kills (64-58) and digs (80-77), while the teams where even with six aces each.

'It was a good, good volleyball match, almost start to finish,' said head coach Jim McLaughlin. 'CSU is a good team and having played them a number of times in this tournament, I think it was the best team we've played. I also thought we played well and we played better and better as the match went.

'We try to be steady-Eddie the whole time and just build momentum as we get going. We did that with the exception of a few points in game three and it was just a series of errors that we made where we hit out of bounds. That concerns you as a coach but once we started challenging the block, I liked our rhythm and we were putting pressure on them all night defensively.

The Rams led throughout game one as the Huskies struggled to find their rhythm. CSU edged out to a three-point lead at 18-15 after a pair of kills from Jaime Strauss and a kill by Ashley Fornstrom but two Ram errors and a block by Sandell and Swarbrick knotted the score at 18-18 for the last of eight ties in the game. Colorado State pushed its lead to 26-22 with kills by Fornstrom, Tessa Nelson and Strauss to trigger a Washington timeout.

CSU scored three of the next four points for game-point at 29-23 but the Huskies reeled off the next three points with kills by Sandell and Mussie and a Sandell and Swarbrick stuff to force a Ram timeout. CSU came out of the break with a kill by Fornstrom to seal the Colorado State victory.

Colorado State out-hit Washington .241-.188 in the set and was led by Mekana Barnes with six kills. Mussie led UW with eight kills in game one, while Miyashiro added 10 digs.

'They were hot (in that first game) and it wasn't like we played poorly but we made some little errors and didn't take advantage of some opportunities,' said McLaughlin. 'I counted at one point that we had created 11 opportunities and converted one and so we had to work on our defense to offense transition. But we did a good job of staying on their tendencies and staying in our tactical plan and eventually these guys figured it out and stayed composed.'

The loss marks the first set Washington has dropped since the 2004 season when it lost to Stanford in the national semifinal. Last season, UW swept all six of its postseason matches, becoming the first team in NCAA history to do so en route to the national championship.

Washington came out in game two firing on all cylinders, scoring the first seven points of the game, including four kills by Morrison. The Huskies used a 7-1 run to go up 16-6 but the Rams scored six unanswered points to cut Washington's lead to four at 16-12. UW used kills by Mussie and Morrison and a pair of CSU errors to inch out to the 20-16 lead.

The Rams continued to battle, pulling to within two points at 21-19 after a kill by Tonya Mokelki and an ace by Lindsey Hillegass to result in a Washington timeout. The Huskies scored the next three points out of the break with two kills by Mussie and a kill by Morrison to force a Colorado State timeout. CSU chipped at Washington's lead, pulling to within one point a 27-26 after two kills by Barnes but the Huskies closed out the game with kills by Mussie and Morrison and a Ram error to take the set 30-26.

UW out-hit Colorado State .196-.114 and was led by Morrison with nine kills on 21 swings.

Game three saw eight ties as late at 18-18 before Washington surged to the 26-22 lead behind a Morrison tip and a block by Sandell and Swarbrick to force CSU to call a timeout. Kills by Swarbrick and Mussie, and an error by the Rams gave UW game-point at 29-23 and another kill by Swarbrick gave the Huskies the 30-24 victory.

Washington hit just .103 in the set with 12 kills and eight errors, but Colorado State hit just .020 with 15 kills and 14 errors. Mussie led the Huskies with four kills, while Swarbrick added three kills and a block.

UW jumped out to the 5-1 lead in game four with an ace by Thompson and kills by Morrison and Sandell. The Rams battled back to knot the score at 7-7, marking the first a six tie scores, including the last juggernaut at 17-17. The Huskies then went to work, building a five point lead at 26-21 after a Swarbrick kill and two CSU errors, resulting in a Colorado State timeout. The break could not slow the Huskies, however, as they scored four of the next five points to win the game, 30-22.

Washington out-hit Colorado State .263-.167 in the set and was led by Morrison and Mussie with four kills apiece. Miyashiro had 11 digs in game four.The Huskies advance to the round of 32 in the tournament for the fifth straight season. Washington is now 21-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and looks to advance to its fourth-consecutive Sweet 16 with a win on Friday.Washington leads Colorado 2-1 in the all-time series and the teams have not met since 1994 when the Buffaloes handed the Huskies a 3-0 loss. UW leads New Mexico State 2-0 in the all-time series and the teams have not met since the 1980 season when the Huskies won 2-0. Washington has never faced Colorado or New Mexico State in the postseason.Friday's winner will advance to the Seattle Regional to play in the regional semifinal, Dec. 8-9. The second round winner will play the winner of the sub-regional taking place in Louisville, Ky., this weekend. Those teams include 11th-seed Ohio State, Belmont, Middle Tennessee and Louisville.Washington has won 29 consecutive home matches in Bank of America Arena, dating back to the 2004 season. That season, Washington hosted the first and second rounds and the regional to advance to the program's first-ever NCAA Championship where they fell to Stanford in the national semifinal.

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