Husky Volleyball 2007 Season Preview

Aug. 20, 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 third edition of a five-part series preview, we take a look at the Huskies middle blockers.


Veteran All-Americans Alesha Deesing and Jessica Swarbrick headline the Washington middle after posting dominating numbers in 2006.

Deesing earned second team All-America honors and was a first team All-Pac-10 selection after averaging 2.51 kpg and 1.03 bpg with a .368 hitting percentage. She had 16 double-figure kill performances, including 18 kills vs. UCLA, and hit at a .500 clip or better 12 times. Deesing also led or tied for the team lead in blocks on 10 occasions.

'Every day is fun coaching Dees because she gives everything she has from start to finish and as a result she continues to make progress,' said McLaughlin. 'In my opinion, she was one of the best middle hitters in the Pac-10 last season and if she makes a few little adjustments in her game she will distinguish herself as the best. She has improved her range as a hitter and has improved her speed and movements as a blocker. She also invested time in her serving and passing and she could help us in those two areas as well. She leads by example and is one of the hardest workers I've ever coached.'

Swarbrick was a third team All-America pick and first team All-Pac-10 honoree last season after averaging 2.67 kpg and 1.47 bpg with a team-leading .397 hitting percentage, which ranked third in the league. She had 14 double-figure kill performances, including 17 kills vs. Oregon, and recorded eight or more blocks eight times.

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.

'Jessy has made a lot of progress and became an all-american last year but she is learning that she can become so much better,' said McLaughlin. 'She has a great arm, good speed, a fairly complete skill level, and we need to get the ball to her more often. She is making more and more progress at the net as a blocker and is beginning to understand blocking at a very high level. As she improves mechanically and makes the small changes needed, Jessy will take her game to an elite level she doesn't know about yet. She is a special kid in many ways and I believe if she stays mindful in every drill, film session, conditioning session and makes good decisions throughout the season, she will separate herself as one of the best in the country. The challenge and opportunity are there for her to take a hold of.'

Also looking to make an impact at the middle blocker position is redshirt freshman Shantell Durrant. An American Fork, Utah native, Durrant sat out last season while honing her game and hopes to get her shot on the court this season. Durrant was an all-state athlete in both volleyball and basketball and is just waiting for an opportunity to show how her game has developed over the last year.

'Shantell made progress but, like everyone else, she must make more,' said McLaughlin. 'She is willing to do the work and she has shown good ability at the net when blocking. The key for Shan will be her arm swing. Arms are tough to change but we have to change her arm to get her on the floor.'

The Huskies open the 2007 season this Friday and Saturday when they host the Husky Classic. UW opens the four team tournament on Friday at 7 p.m. against San Francisco. 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 four of the five-part series we will preview the Huskies setters.>

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