Top-10 Tests Await Huskies In Tampa
Sept. 8, 2009
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 ST. PETE TIMES FORUM
3:00 p.m. PT - #3/3 Washington vs. #9/8 Minnesota
5:00 p.m. PT - South Florida vs. #4/4 Florida
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 ST. PETE TIMES FORUM
3:00 p.m. PT - #3/3 Washington vs. #4/4 Florida
5:00 p.m. PT - South Florida vs. #9/8 Minnesota
SETTING THE SCENE: FIRST MAJOR CHALLENGE
Having swept their first six matches and won their first two tournaments, the third-ranked Husky volleyball team will now travel across the country for the marquee event on its nonconference schedule, the Tampa Twice Tournament. Hosted by South Florida at the same St. Pete Times Forum that will house the 2009 NCAA Final Four, the event will pit the Huskies against two of the nation's current Top-10 teams.
On Friday, Sept. 11, Washington will battle Minnesota, currently ranked 9th by the AVCA, at 3 p.m. Pacific time. The next day the Huskies will line up against No. 4 Florida, also set to start at 3 p.m. in the west. South Florida is the fourth team on hand and will play UW's two opponents each night but will not meet the Huskies.
Washington will test out the arena with the ultimate goal of returning to Tampa on December 17 for the NCAA Semifinals.
This is the second of four-straight weeks away from home for UW, in which the women will play 10 consecutive road or neutral site matches, spending the full month of September away from the Dawgpack. Washington will be into Pac-10 play before returning home Oct. 2 to host Arizona State.
There will be a variety of ways to track the Huskies in their Top-10 match-ups this weekend. South Florida will provide live video as well as a live chat hosted by tournament staff so any fans should feel welcome to send their questions in during the match. The tournament page can be found on www.gousfbulls.com. Also don't forget to follow UWVolleyball on Twitter, as a Husky team rep will be posting frequent updates from the trip and during the matches themselves.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!
Washington made it two-for-two in the Northwest Challenge, winning the event down at Portland State this year after taking the inaugural event at home one year ago. The Huskies took care of Boise State on Friday night, 3-0, before cleaning up in two matches Saturday against Gonzaga and Portland State.
Junior Becky Perry took home tournament MVP honors, as she led the team in kills in each match and hit an outstanding .491 combined over the three matches, including an error-free 11 kills on 21 attempts (.524) against the Bulldogs. Also named to the All-Tournament Team were senior Tamari Miyashiro and redshirt freshman Kelcey Dunaway. Miyashiro had double figure kills in each match, with a best of 17 in the final match against the Vikings. Dunaway, meanwhile, had the strongest weekend of her young career, as she was all over the net, earning a career-high eight blocks against Boise State and racking up 19 blocks total for the weekend.
Washington's perfect start through the first two weeks is nothing new under head coach Jim McLaughlin. Last year the Huskies won their first seven matches before dropping a 3-2 decision at Hawai'i. The year before that Washington rolled to a 16-0 record before finally giving up a five-set loss at Cal. In the national title season in 2005, the Dawgs were 23-0 before their one and only loss at UCLA, and in 2004 Washington got off to a 22-0 start on the way to its first Final Four appearance. The Huskies also had an 11-match win streak to start the 2003 season, McLaughlin's third at Washington.
SCOUTING THE GOPHERS
Minnesota jumped into the Top-10 in the AVCA rankings this week after taking its own Diet Coke Classic this past weekend with wins over Auburn, George Washington, and 12th-ranked Iowa State. The Gophers swept their first two matches then held off the Cyclones, 27-25, 27-25, 26-28, 25-13 to improve to 6-1 for the season. Junior Brook Dieter was named tournament MVP and Lauren Gibbemeyer and Christine Tan were also named to the All-Tournament Team. Freshman Tabitha Love had a career-high 18 kills against Iowa State and was named Big 10 co-Freshman of the Week. One player familiar to the Huskies is senior setter Taylor Carico, who left USC to join the Gophers this season. Carico was a second-team All-American at USC in 2007 and is a former Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Dieter is also a returning second-team All-American.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Washington and Minnesota have only met twice before, but the most recent meeting was a painful one for the Huskies. In 2003, Washington made a surprise run to the NCAA quarterfinals, upsetting Stanford in the round of 16, but Minnesota earned the Final Four bid with a 19-30, 32-30, 33-31, 25-30, 15-9 victory. The Huskies took the first meeting between the teams in 1996, winning in four games.
SCOUTING THE GATORS
Florida has moved up to No. 4 from their preseason No. 8 ranking thanks to a 5-0 start. This is Florida's highest ranking since the 2005 season. The Gators are coming off a win at the Community Bankers Classic in Stockton, Calif. where they held off No. 11 Stanford, 3-2, and then downed Pacific, 3-1. They also recently earned a 3-2 win over Florida State, currently ranked No. 22. Two of the nation's best liberos will match up this weekend, as Tamari Miyashiro will be opposed by senior Elyse Cusack, who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for the 10th time in her career this week. Cusack has 1,713 career digs compared to 1,943 for Miyashiro. Florida is hitting .301 for the season led by Colleen Ward who averages 3.40 kills per set. The Gators have won a record 18-straight SEC titles.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Washington has faced Florida just one time previously. In 1998 the Huskies and Gators met in Lake Buena Vista, Florida as part of the Pac-10/SEC Challenge, and Florida won 15-10, 15-6, 15-12.
REPORTING FOR DUTY
Several fresh faces have seen the first action of their UW careers this season, contributing greatly to Washington's stellar start. Two players in their second years on the squad have earned their first stats. Redshirt freshman middle blocker Kelcey Dunaway has stepped up big for the Huskies at the net, picking up even more playing time when sophomore Lauren Barfield suffered a broken pinkie. Dunaway has a team-leading 24 blocks, including a career-high eight vs. Boise State last Friday. She was named to the Northwest Challenge All-Tournament Team. Sophomore Kandiss Anderson also has stepped in as a server in two matches this year, earning her first ace against San Jose State. A pair of true freshman have also seen action, with Jenni Nogueras from Puerto Rico earning more and more playing time at the setter spot. Nogueras had a career-high 17 assists against Portland State, and led the team with three aces against Boise State. Defensive specialist Kelly Holford from Long Beach, Calif. also got into the match against San Diego State to serve.
PLAYING THE PERCENTAGES
It's certainly still early, but several Husky hitters have been spattering the opposite side of the night with abandon. As a team, Washington is outhitting its opponents, .337 to .069. Middle blocker Bianca Rowland has been the most efficient weapon, posting 37 kills on 56 attempts with a scant four errors for a .589 attack percentage. Also rolling early is junior Becky Perry (52-11-108), who is hitting at a .380 clip, and junior Kindra Carlson (44-11-92), hitting .359. Washington turned in a remarkable set against Boise State on Sept. 4, amassing 18 kills on 24 swings with one lone error for an eye-popping percentage of .708.
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 inching ever closer to her second thousand digs. The Kanaohe, Hawai'i native has 1,943 career digs, and needs 57 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 with 2,957 career assists, needs just 43 more to become the fourth setter in school history to surpass 3,000.
HUSKIES IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
The top three teams in the rankings all went through the past week unblemished and thus held firm in the rankings this week. Penn State continues at No. 1 in both the AVCA and Volleyball Magazine polls, with Texas at No. 2 and the Huskies coming in at No. 3. Washington is up one spot from its preseason No. 4 ranking. This stretch is the first time in the top-three for the Huskies since December of 2006 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 one vote. The Huskies have yet to face a ranked team but still have eight teams ranked in the Top-25 upcoming on their schedule, starting with No. 4 Florida and No. 9 Minnesota this weekend. 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.
The Huskies will round out their non-conference schedule with another trip east, this time the destination will be San Antonio, the city where Washington won the 2005 national championship. The UW will play three matches in three days at the UTSA Classic, starting with Texas-San Antonio on Thursday, Sept. 17. The following day the Huskies will play Rice, and then cap things off Saturday against Middle Tennessee State.