Husky Volleyball 2007 Season Preview

Aug. 17, 2007

SEATTLE - The 2007 edition of Washington Husky volleyball will look to extend a number of successful streaks as they head into the upcoming season. The Huskies, who are ranked No. 8 in the 2007 CSTV/AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll, are seeking their sixth straight NCAA Playoff appearance under head coach Jim McLaughlin. Washington, the 2005 NCAA National Champion, has gone 143-45 (.761) under McLaughlin's guidance, including 89-9 (.908) over the past three seasons, and is riding a 31-game home winning streak at Bank of America Arena that stretches back to the 2004 season.

The Husky Volleyball program has reached new heights with McLaughlin at the helm, evidenced by a school-record five straight NCAA Playoff appearances, and three-straight top four finishes nationally. The Huskies return five starters from last year's squad that finished 29-5, and No. 4 in the nation. In this second edition of a five-part series preview, we take a look at the Huskies outside hitters.


Puyallup, Wash., natives Christal Morrison and Stevie Mussie will pack Washington's one-two punch on offense. Both are coming off knee surgeries over the summer but are expected to be at full strength by the season-opener.

Morrison led the Huskies and ranked second in the Pac-10 last season with 4.56 kills per game and 5.27 points per game. She led or tied for the team lead in kills 18 times and had 17 double-doubles. A three-time All-American, Morrison should once again be regarded as one of the best in the country at her position.

'Christal can do so many things at a high level and she continues to work hard to improve her game,' said McLaughlin. 'Her spring season was cut short because of her knee, however, it gave her a chance to focus exclusively on her serve and receive game. As a result, her passing has improved significantly and mechanically she is very sound. She will be stronger this year and will hit harder with more range. This will be her best year if she can continue to improve and make a few changes in her attack.'

Mussie completed her first season in a Husky uniform after transferring from Pacific after the 2004 season and missing 2005 with a knee injury. In her first season in the purple and gold, Mussie made an immediate impact, ranking second on the team behind Morrison with 3.82 kpg, which also ranked 10th in the conference. Mussie had 22 double-digit kill performances and 14 double-doubles as she established herself as one of the best hitters in recent Husky history.

'I expect Stevie to have her best year as a senior,' said McLaughlin. 'She is physical, she has a complete skill level and she likes to compete. The key for Stevie, as for all elite players, is to compete every play, every day and at the same time, keep emotionally connected so she can perform consistently. She can take over a match but can she do it consistently? I know Stevie is playing well when she is passing well. Her ability to pass is the key.'

Season, group and single-game tickets are on sale through the Husky Ticket Office at 206/543-2200 or by clicking here to purchase online.

Also vying for time at the outside hitter position is junior Jill Collymore and newcomers Becky Perry, and Kindra Carlson.

Collymore appeared in 25 matches last season and averaged 3.16 kpg. She had seven double-figure kill performances, including 17 kills vs. Arizona State, and once again kept defenses off balance with her blistering jump serve.

'Jill hits the ball as hard or harder than most of the guys I've coached,' said McLaughlin. 'She has tremendous arm speed. But what impressed me most was Jill's last two weeks of practice. She had a much better mindset coming to practice. She was more direct, she knew what she was doing and what she needed to do and, as a result, she was able to make the necessary changes in her game and she learned at a much greater rate. As she focused on managing her game and doing the simple things well, her confidence began to grow. As she continues to improve her mechanics and then develops her eye-work she will make better choices as a hitter. I asked her to improve her passing and she improved 17% in six weeks. She improved the second step in her jump serve and became more consistent in her results. Jill is in a good place to take her game to a new level. She has learned how to come to practice.'

Washington also welcomes Perry into the mix after she redshirted her freshman season. The Austin, Texas native was a member of the 2006 USA Junior National Team and was named the 15th-best senior in the nation by PrepVolleyball. With a full season of training under her belt, Perry may work her way into the UW line-up this fall.

'Becky is fearless and she is not afraid to take big swings in tough situations,' said McLaughlin. 'She made steady progress this spring and was a different player in terms of where she started and where she finished. If she can continue to manage her game skill-to-skill and drill-to-drill as well as her day-to-day approach, she will be one of the most complete players I've coached. She has very good arm speed, is a very physical player, and is becoming more physical as she develops the mechanics and timing of her spiking approach. As she sees the game better and better, she will play faster and faster. It's fun to watch her and it's fun to see her become more comfortable with her game.'

Carlson, an Eaton, Colo., native, will also compete for playing time at the outside hitter position. A first team all-state selection, Carlson was also honored as the Greeley Tribune Athlete of the Year and led her club team, Front Range, to the 2006 AAU Championship and a fourth place finish at nationals.

'Competitive, quick and powerful are just a few of the things that come to mind when I think about Kindra Carlson,' said McLaughlin. 'She learns every day and made significant progress this spring. She is performing the movements we want her to use with more regularity and, as a result, her numbers are getting better and better. She is learning how to manage her game in all areas, which is never easy. I expect great things out of her if she just makes a little improvement every day. Learning how to pass is high on her task list.'

Washington has also added Utah junior transfer Airial Salvo to the roster but she will sit out the 2007 season per NCAA transfer rules. Salvo was the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year and a second team All-America selection. She led the Utes with 4.13 kpg, 3.35 dpg and 4.98 ppg, while collecting 29 double-figure kill performances. Salvo has also been involved with the USA National Team system as a member of the 2006 US A2 team and 2005 USA Junior National Team.

'Airial has all the ability she needs- A strong arm, good platform, good speed and a good feel for the game,' said McLaughlin. 'As she learns the specific movements we want her to consistently make, and learns to look at the right things at the right time, she will become a great player in the Pac-10. She is into volleyball in every way, shape and form and is not afraid to work her tail off. She will have no weaknesses and should be great in a number of areas. She will redshirt this season so we get a year to make her a lot better.'

Season, group and single-match tickets are currently on sale through the Husky Athletic Ticket Office, located in Graves Hall on the UW campus. Season tickets can be purchased for $88 per seat and include reserved seating in the lower bowl of Bank of America Arena, and a discount from the single-match ticket price. Single-match ticket prices range from $4-$9.

Looking ahead: In part two of the five-part series we will preview the Huskies outside hitters.

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