Morrison Leads Huskies Past Oregon on Senior Night
Nov. 23, 2007
SEATTLE - Christal Morrison tallied 21 kills and eight blocks to lead No. 6 Washington past No. 13 Oregon, 3-1, on senior night at Bank of America Arena. It was a fitting end to a storied career for Morrison and four other Husky seniors, who won by scores of 27-30, 30-27, 30-25, 30-16.
On a night where the Huskies five seniors were honored prior to the game, it was the All-American Morrison who led the way. She teamed up with Jessica Swarbrick to turn away a kill from Oregon's Heather Meyers to give Washington the win in game four and the 3-1 win. She immediately fell to her knees in a moment of celebration.
'There was so much emotion in me,' said Morrison. 'I didn't mean to fall to the floor but I was so pumped up. It was so exciting to play our last home game here.'
After dropping the first game, Washington won games two, three and four to finish the regular season at 26-3 and 15-3 in the Pac-10. Oregon fell to 20-10 and 9-9 in the Pac-10. Both teams are expected to be chosen for the 2007 NCAA Championships.
Morrison and fellow seniors Ashley Aratani, Alesha Deesing, Stevie Mussie and Alison Simmons made their final regular season home appearances for Washington, but they and the rest of the Huskies have an outside shot at hosting the first and second rounds of the playoffs in Seattle.
From here, the Huskies will wait until Sunday to learn their fate for the playoffs. The selection show will be aired live on ESPNU at 5 p.m. Washington has put in a bid to host the first and second rounds, which would start on either Thursday, Nov. 29 or Friday, Nov. 30.
Things didn't start good for Washington, though, as Oregon won game one, 30-27. Despite being outhit by the UW .317 to .311, the Ducks were able to steadily pull away after a 16-16 tie. Prior to that, there were nine other ties and three lead changes. A kill by Neticia Enesi gave Oregon a 29-25 lead but the Huskies scored back-to-back points on kills by Morrison and Swarbrick to revive hope. A kill by Sonja Newcombe gave Oregon the win, though.
The teams' top two hitters put on a display in the opening game, with Morrison recording six kills and hitting .429 and the Ducks Gorana Maricic tallying eight kills and hitting. 375.
With the scored tied 6-6 in game two, the Ducks scored three straight points and led for much of the game until the Huskies tied it back up at 22-22 on an Oregon attack error. A kill by Mussie put Washington up by a point and the Huskies led the rest of the way.
The Huskies hit .406 in the game with Morrison and Mussie both recording five kills. Oregon had one more kill, 19 to 18, but the Ducks had 10 attacks errors for a .257 hitting percentage.
The two teams went back-and-forth during the first six points of game three, but Washington took a 4-3 lead on a Ducks attack error and never looked back. Washington held a six-point lead on two separate occasions, the last at 23-17 on another Ducks attack error. A kill by Swarbrick finished things off in the game, giving Washington the 30-25 win.
Washington had eight team blocks in the game, with both Morrison and Mussie finishing with three total blocks each. Two of Morrison's blocks were solos.
In the final game, Washington broke free from a 3-3 tie on a kill by Swarbrick and never trailed again. A Morrison kill put the Huskies up 22-15 and then Aratani served seven straight points to give Washington a 29-15 lead. After a Husky service error, Morrison and Swarbrick blocked an attack by Meyers to seal the win.
'Starts are important, but how you finish is more important,' said UW head coach Jim McLaughlin. 'It took us awhile to get going but once we did it was some really good volleyball. They [Oregon] played great tonight.'
Mussie also concluded her career at Bank of America on a high note, finishing with 13 kills, eight digs and four block assists.
Swarbrick was the only other Husky to finish in double-figures in kills, tallying 12 while hitting a match-best .500. She also had seven total blocks.
As a team, Washington finished with a .315 hitting percentage (63-16-149) while limiting Oregon to just a .174 mark (69-39-172). The Huskies sided out at 75 percent for the match, including 87 percent in the final game.
Becky Perry added seven more kills for the UW and hit .438, Deesing had seven kills and seven block assists, and Jenna Hagglund had a match-high 59 assists. Also for Washington, Tamari Miyashiro and Megan McAfee had 19 and 17 digs, respectively.
Morrison hit .320, her best percentage since hitting .500 at Arizona State on Nov. 2. She recorded double-figures in kills for the 14th straight match and 24th time overall this year, and also led Washington with eight total blocks, including a season-high three solos.
'She was incredible,' McLaughlin said of Morrison. 'She had 50 swings against a good team and hit over 32 percent. What I was most impressed about with her though, was that she took some good cuts in transition.'
McLaughlin was pleased with the way his team rebounded from their opening game loss and felt that the match provided a good test heading into the tournament, especially against a ranked opponent.
'We couldn't ask for anything better. This is a good team and they really forced us to do the things we do well, to stay on task and serve tough, and we did in games two, three and four.'
Oregon was led by Maricic's 20 kills, while Meyers added 17 more and Sonja Newcombe had 14. Nevena Djordjevic led the Ducks with 38 assists, Katie Swoboda had a match-high 23 digs and Newcombe added 11 more digs.
NOTES: Washington is a perfect 14-0 against the Ducks under Jim McLaughlin and leads the all-time series 52-16 ... The Huskies had 19 team blocks, while Oregon had just 10 ... Morrison finished with 26.5 points and needs 23.5 more to pass Sonja Tomasevic for the career lead at UW ... The five seniors were part of arguably the best era of Husky Volleyball, which includes a National Championship in 2005 and back-to-back Pac-10 Championships in 2004 and 2005 ... The Huskies finished in second place in the Pac-10, one game back of Stanford. Washington could have clinched a share of the title if California would have won at Stanford tonight, but the Cardinal rallied from a 2-1 deficit for the 3-2 win.