3rd-Ranked Huskies Enter Pac-10 Play At Oregon Schools
Sept. 23, 2009
SETTING THE SCENE: PAC-10 OPENS WITH A BANG
With the tournament portion of their schedule behind them, the third-ranked Huskies can now sink their teeth into Pac-10 play. At 10-0, Washington is one of eight remaning unbeatens in the country, yet four of those eight reside in the Pac-10, and one will be UW's first opponent, the No. 7 Oregon Ducks.
Washington heads to Eugene, Ore. for the conference opener on Friday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. at McArthur Court. Oregon also boasts a 10-0 record, making this first Pac-10 encounter a pivotal one. Sunday, the Huskies will face another challenge in the Oregon State Beavers, who are coming off an upset of No. 6 Michigan on the Wolverines home floor, in straight sets no less. The Huskies and Beavers will square off at 2 p.m. Sunday at Gill Coliseum.
At No. 3, Washington is the top-ranked team in the Pac-10, and the Ducks are next in line at No. 7. Oregon State, at 9-3, is receiving votes as well. The Huskies have been road tested all month long but Friday will be their first true road match against a Top-25 team this year. The UW has played its past seven matches away from home, and this weekend will mark the end of a nine-match stint away from the Dawg Pack.
Conference play has brought out the best in the Huskies in recent years, as Washington has finished either first or second in arguably the nation's premiere conference in each of the last five seasons. The Huskies won Pac-10 titles in 2004 and 2005, and has been second in 2006, 2007, and 2008.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!
The Huskies made it a perfect four-for-four in tournament titles as they took top honors at the UTSA Classic in San Antonio last weekend. Washington was originally scheduled to play three matches, but Rice backed out of the tourney due to illness. Still, the UW made the most of its two outings, sweeping both UT-San Antonio and Middle Tennessee State.
Against the host Roadrunners of UTSA, Washington cruised 25-13, 25-14, 25-20. They outhit UTSA .383-.087 and were led by the 12 kills of Becky Perry and 10 from Kindra Carlson. Sophomore Lauren Barfield made her first appearance of the year after recovering from a broken finger. Senior Tamari Miyashiro also became the second Husky ever to record 2,000 career digs, hitting the mark on the button with 18 digs.
The next day, Washington handled the Blue Raiders of MTSU, 25-15, 25-22, 25-7. The dominant third set equaled the lowest point total for a Husky opponent in a set since rally scoring came into effect in 2001. Senior Jill Collymore served for 15-straight points midway through the set. All told in the match, the Huskies hit a season-high .412 compared to .082 for MTSU. Perry led the Dawgs again with a season-high 13 kills and was named Tournament MVP, while Collymore and Miyashiro were also named to the All-Tournament Team.
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.
Washington's perfect start through the first four 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.
UW WINS IN AND OUT OF CONFERENCE
With a 10-0 run through its non-conference schedule, the Huskies ran their record against non-conference foes to 86-5 since the beginning of the 2003 season. That adds up to a .945 winning percentage out of the Pac-10. All five losses have been five-set nailbiters as well. Though its not as if UW has been shabby in league play either. Starting in 2004 when the Huskies won their first Pac-10 title, they have gone a combined 78-12 (.867) in conference matches and finished no worse than a tie for second.
SCOUTING THE DUCKS
The Ducks are one of eight remaining unbeaten teams in the nation, and have matched their best start in school history at 10-0. Oregon ranks behind only Penn State and the Huskies in hitting percentage with a .323 mark. They also lead the Pac-10 in aces and rank third nationally at 2.26 per set. Junior Heather Meyer has been the country's most effective server, averaging nearly one ace per set at 0.96. All-Pac-10 senior middle blocker Neticia Enesi is second in the conference with a .512 hitting percentage, while All-Pac-10 senior OH Sonja Newcombe leads the team with 3.64 kills per set. Another senior, setter Nevena Djordjevic is tallying 11.35 assists per set, third in the Pac-10. The Huskies and Ducks have three common opponents already in Minnesota, Portland State, and Seattle. UW swept all three while Oregon had a 3-2 win over UM, and a 3-1 win over PSU while sweeping Seattle. Head coach Jim Moore is in his fifth season in Eugene.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Washington has held a significant edge in the series historically and recently as well. The Huskies have won 16 straight vs. the Ducks and hold a 54-16 edge. Last season the Dawgs earned a 3-2 win in Seattle and topped Oregon, 3-1 in Eugene. UO's last win in the series came back in 2000 at Mac Court.
SCOUTING THE BEAVERS
The Beavers are led by All-American outside hitter Rachel Rourke. The senior is the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Week after she led Oregon State to the win at the Michigan ADIDAS Invitational. Rourke is second on the Beaver top-10 career kills list with 1,575. Last weekend Oregon State traveled to Ann Arbor and after dropping a five-set heartbreaker to Dayton, the Beavs fought back with a win over Marquette. Then OSU had its biggest win of the year, sweeping No. 6 Michigan and breaking a 52-match regular season non-conference win streak for the Wolverines. Rourke was dominant against UM, racking up 25 kills in just three sets while hitting .420. Rourke and senior middle blocker Lexie Rathgeber both earned All-Tournament honors. Aside from Dayton, Oregon State has suffered a 3-1 defeat to Pepperdine and 3-2 loss to Wisconsin. Taras Liskevych is in his fifth year at the helm of OSU.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Washington won both matches against Oregon State last season in straight sets, extending its series win streak to 14 matches dating back to 2002. Oregon State's last win was in 2001 during UW coach Jim McLaughlin's first season. The Huskies lead the all-time series, 45-21.
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 finger. Dunaway has a team-leading 35 blocks, including a career-high eight vs. Boise State. She was named to the Northwest Challenge All-Tournament Team. Sophomore Kandiss Anderson also has stepped in as a server in four 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 seeing a lot of early 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 checked in in a pair of matches and earned her first two digs against Middle Tennessee St.
Junior libero Tamari Miyashiro rolled past her second thousand career digs last weekend against UTSA and now is inching closer to the school record. The Kanaohe, Hawai'i native has 2,015 career digs, and needs just 23 to tie Candace Lee for the school record and fourth-place on the all-time Pac-10 list. 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 at the Tampa Twice Tournament became the fourth setter in school history to pass 3,000 career assists, coming in now at 3,083 over her two-plus seasons.
HUSKIES IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
There was virtually no change in the point totals of the nation's top three teams in this week's AVCA rankings. Washington stayed put at No. 3 following top-ranked Penn State and No. 2 Texas. The Nittany Lions have 50 first-place votes while the Longhorns have seven in their corner and the Huskies are pulling down three firsts. Washingon remained third in the Volleyball Magazine poll as well. This four-week 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. The Huskies are now 2-0 against ranked opponents and still have six teams ranked in the Top-25 upcoming on their schedule. 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.
Washington finally returns to Seattle next week for its first home matches since the end of August. The Huskies will host Arizona State in the Pac-10 home opener at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2, then face currently undefeated and 19th-ranked Arizona on Saturday, Oct. 3 also at 7 p.m.