No. 3 Huskies Off To Portland For Northwest Challenge
Sept. 2, 2009
SETTING THE SCENE: THE OPEN ROAD AWAITS
Coming off a successful opening weekend and up one spot in the national rankings, the Husky volleyball team will begin a long stretch away from home this week beginning with the Northwest Challenge in Portland, Ore. This is the second year of the tournament, which includes Washington, Boise State, Gonzaga, and 2009 host-institution Portland State. The tourney is scheduled to rotate between the four participants, after beginning last year in Seattle.
Washington, ranked 3rd in the latest polls, will open against Boise State on Friday, Sept. 4, at 5 p.m. at PSU's Stott Center. Saturday, Sept. 5, will be UW's second double-header of the season, as they face off with Gonzaga at 11 a.m., and then come back to face Portland State at 7:30 p.m.
This weekend marks the beginning of 10 consecutive road or neutral site matches for the Huskies, as they will spend the full month of September away from the rowdy Dawgpack. Washington will be into Pac-10 play before returning home Oct. 2 to host Arizona State.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!
The 2009 season kicked off last Friday with The Invitational At Seattle, Washington, a tournament co-hosted with the Redhawks of Seattle U. The first hurdle was cleared Friday night as UW scored a resounding sweep of the San Jose State Spartans at Bank of America Arena. Washington followed that up with two wins on two courts on Saturday, blanking Seattle at its Connolly Center, then heading back to Montlake to defeat San Diego State in the nightcap. No team reached 20 points in any set against UW and the Huskies and held all three opponents to under .110 hitting percentages. Jill Collymore posted two double-doubles in the three matches, and Becky Perry, Airial Salvo, and Kindra Carlson all had double-digit kills in one of the three matches. Against the Aztecs, Tamari Miyashiro notched 22 digs and Jenna Hagglund dished a season-high 38 assists. Salvo also had three solo blocks over the weekend. Four new Huskies also got their first career match play, including sophomore Kandiss Anderson, redshirt freshman Kelcey Dunaway, and true frehsmen Jenni Nogueras and Kelly Holford.
Washington is now 27-9 all-time in season openers, including eight straight wins from 2002 to the present day. This year the team opened up at home with a sweep of San Jose State. Washington is 10-2 overall in season-openers at home. Under Jim McLaughlin, the UW is 8-1 in season-openers, losing the first match of his first season in 2001 to BYU but having won the last eight.
SCOUTING THE BRONCOS
Boise State is struggling out of the gates at 0-3 with losses to Northern Arizona, Tulsa, and Cal State Northridge at The Bronco Invitational last weekend. The Broncos have seven returners and added six newcomers to a squad that went 9-19 in 2008 and 5-11 in the WAC. One of the losses last year was at the hands of UW. Boise State is a young team with just two seniors, densive specialists Kati Lewis and Jeanene Rose. Freshman outside hitter Liz Harden was named to the Bronco Invite All-Tournament Team. Shawn Garus is in his first year coaching at BSU.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Washington and Boise State have split 10 meetings down the middle, with the Broncos winning the first five, and the Huskies having the upper-hand ever since. The first meeting came back in 1983. Washington swept BSU last year, 25-11, 25-15, 25-17.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Gonzaga opened its season at the Weber State University Tournament and went 1-2. The Zags defeated Utah State, 3-2, in-between a 3-1 loss to Utah Valley and 3-2 loss to Weber State. Junior middle blocker Caitlin Cozad earned All-Tournament honors for Gonzaga. Seniors Michelle Boevers and Layne Brosky had 17 and 15 kills, respectively against Weber State to lead Gonzaga. Last year Gonzaga was 10-21 and 3-11 in the WCC. They return five starters. This is the first season for head coach Dave Gantt.
ABOUT THE SERIES
The Huskies own the historical edge over the Bulldogs, having won 12 of 14 meetings all-time and the past seven in a row. The first match-up was in 1983, a win for UW. Last year Washington swept Gonzaga in the Northwest Challenge in Seattle, 25-10, 25-14, 25-16.
SCOUTING THE VIKINGS
The Vikings are the defending Big Sky Conference tournament champions, and went 20-9 last year to reach their first D-I NCAA Championships, where they fell to the Huskies in the first round. This season, Portland State has had a sluggish start, going 0-3 at last weekend's MCM Elegante Classic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Portland State had a 3-1 loss to UC Santa Barbara followed by two 3-2 losses against New Mexico and Delaware. Junior transfer Whitney Phillips made the all-tourney team last week after averaging 4.29 kills per set. They also return first team All-Big Sky senior hitter Marija Vojnovic. Michael Seemann is in his third season as head coach at Portland State.
ABOUT THE SERIES
The Huskies and Vikings were frequent combatants in the program's early days, having met 31 times, the first coming in 1976. The UW owns a 17-13 edge and has won the past six meetings. Last year Washington added two wins, one coming at the Northwest Challenge and the other in the first round of NCAA's. Both wins were sweeps for UW.
Washington gets set for its marquee non-conference matches as it visits Tampa, Florida and the site of this year's NCAA Final Four to compete in the Tampa Twice Tournament. South Florida hosts the event but Washington will match up against Minnesota and Florida. The Huskies will first play the 13th-ranked Golden Gophers on Friday, Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. PT, then battle the fifth-ranked Gators on Saturday at 3 p.m.
There are some exciting new ways to follow the Huskies on a regular basis this season, the hub of which is the newly redesigned GoHuskies.com. From there fans can connect with the Huskies on Twitter as well as join their official Facebook fan site to get closer to the team than ever before.To find the Huskies on Twitter, search 'UWVolleyball' all one word.To become a fan of the Huskies on Facebook, simply head to facebook.com/UWHuskyVolleyball.
Junior libero Tamari Miyashiro is well on her way to her second thousand digs. The Kanaohe, Hawai'i native has 1,903 career digs, and needs 97 to become just the second libero in Washington history to break 2,000 digs. Once she hits that mark it's just another 38 digs to tie Candace Lee for the school record. Miyashiro succeeded Lee at the libero position, giving Husky fans eight-straight seasons of historically outstanding defensive play. A two-time National Defensive Player of the Year, Miyashiro is on pace to break the digs record despite the switch to 25-point sets last season. Also climbing the career Top-10 list is junior setter Jenna Hagglund, who entered 2009 with 2,809 assists, needing just 191 more to become the fourth setter in school history to pass 3,000.
HUSKIES IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
A large number of upset losses across the country in week one produced a sizeable shakeup in the national polls this week. Washington made it through the weekend unscathed and thus climbed up one spot to No. 3 in both the AVCA and Volleyball Magazine polls after previous No. 3 Nebraska fell. This is the first time in the top-three for the Huskies since December of 2004 prior to UW's third Final Four in as many years. In the AVCA poll, the Huskies were one of three teams to earn first place votes, picking up a pair. Both polls follow the same top-seven, with Penn State leading and earning 53 first-place votes in the AVCA poll. Texas is second in both, with five first-place votes in the AVCA, followed by Washington with two votes. Hawai'i moved up to No. 4 this week followed by Florida, which UW will face next weekend in Tampa. One impressive rankings-related note is that Washington, Penn State, and Nebraska are the only three teams to have been ranked in the Top-10 by the AVCA every week for the past five years. All three teams were last out of the Top-10 in December of 2003.
MCLAUGHLIN HITS MILESTONE
With wins in UW's first three matches this weekend, ninth-year head coach Jim McLaughlin reached the 200 wins mark at Washington. Already the winningest coach in Husky history, McLaughlin joined UCLA's Andy Banachowski, Arizona's Dave Rubio, Stanford's John Dunning, and USC's Mick Haley as current Pac-10 coaches that have amassed 200+ wins at their current school.
UW ON THE TUBE
Husky fans can look forward to four matches televised by Fox Sports Net during the fall. Washington's four FSN dates are tied for the most of any conference team along with Stanford. Both of the regular season meetings between the Huskies and Cardinal will be broadcast. No other conference team will be televised more than twice. The first televised match will be UW's visit to Palo Alto on October 10. Then FSN will feature the Dawgs for three-straight weeks late in the season. The Stanford home match on Nov. 6, Washington's visit to UCLA on Nov. 21, and Washington's home meeting with the Cougars on Nov. 21 are all slated for broadcast.
INSIDE THE ROSTER
Washington has 15 girls on the roster in 2009 from eight states and one territory. Six athletes hail from Washington state, while the rest come from Arizona (Anderson), California (Orlandini and Holford), Hawai'i (Miyashiro), Ohio (Hagglund), Texas (Perry), Utah (Salvo), and Puerto Rico (Nogueras). The squad also boasts seven girls six feet tall or taller, with the average height of the team coming in at 6-0. Washington's tallest player is sophomore middle blocker Lauren Barfield at 6-5; the shortest is freshman defensive specialist Jenna Orlandini at 5-6.
HUSKIES VOTED PAC-10 FAVORITES
The Husky volleyball team was tabbed as the preseason favorite in the Pacific-10 Conference based on a vote of the conference coaches. Washington received all of a possible nine first place votes. The Huskies led the way with 90 points and nine of 10 first place votes. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. California was voted second with 80 points and the other first-place vote. Three-time defending conference champion Stanford was third with 74 points. The Cardinal were NCAA runners-up last year. Last season the Huskies were picked fifth in the preseason coaches' poll but vastly outperformed that estimate to finish second behind Stanford. The last time the Huskies were voted the Pac-10 preseason favorite was 2005, when UW went on to win its first NCAA Championship, losing just one match all year.