Volleyball Heads To Colorado For Four Matches

Sept. 4, 2001

SEATTLE - Last Week:
Pt. Huskies Inv. Tournament (Seattle, Wash.)
8/31 vs. #11 BYU L, 0-3
9/1 vs. Purdue W, 3-1
9/1 vs. Texas L, 1-3

This Week:
9/4 at Denver 6:00 PM

Air Force Invite (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
9/7 vs. Illinois-Chicago 8:00 AM
9/7 vs. SE Louisiana 3:30 PM
9/8 at Air Force 6:00 PM

Colorado-Bound: The Washington volleyball team heads to Colorado for its first and longest road trip of the season. The Huskies face non-conference opponent Denver Tuesday and then travel to Colorado Springs for a four-team tournament at the Air Force Academy.

At The Start: The Huskies opened their 2001 campaign and the Jim McLaughlin era by going 1-2 at the Point Huskies Invitational last weekend with a win over Purdue and a pair of losses to Texas and BYU.

Texas claimed the overall tournament title with a perfect 3-0 record, while 11th-ranked BYU was second with a 2-1 mark. Purdue, meanwhile, finished fourth with a 0-3 record.

All-Tourney Honors: Two Huskies, senior Allison Richardson (Hemet, Calif.) and junior Gretchen Maurer (San Clemente, Calif.), were named to the six-player Pt. Huskies All-Tournament Team. Richardson led the UW in kills twice, while tallying double-doubles in all three matches. The Huskies' starting center blocker also led the tournament field in aces with 12, including a career-best seven against Purdue. Maurer, meanwhile, averaged 12.45 assists per game and had four aces, including three versus Texas.

The Longhorns' Mira Topic was named tournament MVP after leading her team to an upset win over 11th-ranked BYU and ranking first in digs per game (3.83) and second in service aces (11) and kills (53).

Point Huskies Invitational All-Tournament Team
Nina Puikkonen and Sunny Tonga Mahe, BYU
Allison Richardson and Gretchen Maurer, UW
Bethany Howden and Mira Topic (MVP), Texas

Serving It Up: The effect of the new rally-only scoring system and the let or net serve has already become very apparent in regards to the service game. The Huskies have recorded 30 service aces in three matches so far this season, after tallying 102 aces in all of 2000.

The UW fell just two short of tying the school record for aces in a match (18 vs. Montana State in 1984) Saturday, when the team finished with 16 against Purdue. Senior Allison Richardson had seven aces versus the Boilermakers, one behind the school record of eight set by Kara Hardesty in 1984 and Dragana Djordjevic in 1994.

On the flip side, however, the Huskies also have 45 service errors in three matches.

Jump!: Jump serving will be an integral part of the Huskies' game plan in 2001. Last weekend, five UW players jump served on a regular basis, including regulars Allison Richardson and Gretchen Maurer, along with junior Paige Benjamin (Redmond, Wash.), senior Britni Churnside (Eugene, Ore.) and freshman Vanessa Gilliam (Fairfield, Calif.).

Fab Freshmen: Two of the Huskies three true freshmen saw significant playing time in their first weekend at Washington. Left-hander Kaitlin Leck (Carson City, Nev.) started three matches at right-side hitter, while classmate Vanessa Gilliam played all of the team's 11 games, rotating into the front row at outside hitter.

The UW's other true freshman, Patricia DeCiman (Regina, Saskatchewan), meanwhile, reported to practice late last week after helping Saskatchewan to a fifth-place finish at the 2001 Canada Games, Aug. 20-24.

In the Record Books: Entering the 2001 season, three current Washington volleyball players are already among the school's all-time career top 10 in several categories.

Senior center blocker Lisa Underhill (Vista, Calif.) moved from seventh to fifth in block assists (278) and from eighth to sixth in total blocks (313) after last weekend's three matches. Junior captain Paige Benjamin has the fourth-best hitting percentage (.274) of all-time and senior setter Britni Churnside (Eugene, Ore.) ranks sixth in career assists with 1,892.

Underhill, who owns the third-best career hitting percentage (.276), should also enter the top 10 in career kills this coming weekend, as her 856 kills are just 17 behind Amy Tutt's 873 kills.

Scouting Denver: Washington and the University of Denver meet for the first time ever in a non-conference match in Denver on Tuesday.

The Pioneers, under head coach Beth Kuwata, opened their season by going an even 2-2 at the four-team Michigan State tournament. Denver defeated both Auburn (3-1) and Western Michigan (3-2), before falling to Dayton and Michigan State in four games.

Denver has been led so far this season by Kellie Savage, who averages 3.06 kills per game, while Andrea Baron (2.59 k/g) and Jenn Karas (2.53 k/g) both provide additional help on offense. Setter Clarice Golesh-Burch runs the Pioneer attack, and Olympia Hughes is the top defensive player with 2.82 digs per game.

Scouting Illinois-Chicago: The Illinois-Chicago Flames began their 2001 campaign by going 2-1 at the Ohio State tournament. Under head coach Don August, UIC lost to Ohio State in three games, beat Ohio in four games and then swept Tennessee Tech.

Sophomore outside hitter Teaha Shepperd has led her team offensively with 3.30 kills per game, followed by teammates Lindsey Filkins and Lara and Lynn Clarkson, who all average a little over two kills a game. Freshman Dawn Strahanoski runs the Flame offense with a 11.20 assists per game mark, while Lynn Clarkson has been a force at the net with 10 total blocks in the team's three matches.

Washington and UIC's first and only meeting came in 1999, when the Huskies won in three games to open their season schedule in Chicago.

Scouting SE Louisiana: The Southeastern Louisiana Lions will open their 2001 season on Wednesday with a home match versus Jackson State before heading off to Colorado Springs.

A year ago, the Lions, under head coach Roni Armeda-Hipp, finished 12-18 overall and 8-12 in the Southland Conference. Senior outside hitter Mandy Withrow is the team's top returnee with 3.34 kills per game and 3.80 digs per game in 2000. Senior setter Kimberly Ishino averaged 10.84 assists per game, while sophomore middle blocker Jennifer Jones was the top blocker at the net with 0.83 blocks per game. SE Louisiana's roster also includes a familiar face in Janelle Grovey, who transfered from Washington a year ago after playing in 22 games.

Friday afternoon's match will be the first meeting between the Huskies and Lions.

Scouting Air Force: Tournament host Air Force went 1-3 in its first weekend of play in 2001. The Falcons dropped their opener to Florida International in three games, but then bounced back to sweep Appalachian State in three games a day later. Air Force then fell twice to Central Florida (1-3) and Stetson (1-3).v Under head coach Penny Lucas-White, the Falcons have two players, Delavane Diaz and Brittany Edmonds, both averaging over three kills a game. Kristin Huitt is first on the team in digs per game with 2.86, while Christina Nigro leads the team at the net with 0.93 blocks per game.

Air Force is the third, first-time opponent for the Huskies this week.

See Us On TV: If you're looking to see a Husky home match without leaving your home, Fox Sports and the Pac-10 have made it all possible. Washington's match with Arizona on Friday, Nov. 9, in Seattle will be televised by Fox Sports Net (national) on a tape-delay basis. The team's Nov. 16 meeting with Washington State also will be televised by Fox Sports Northwest and can be chosen as the 'wildcard' selection for Fox Sports Net.

Fox Sports Net will televise eight other Pac-10 women's volleyball matches in 2001, all of which are scheduled to air on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. from Sept. 15-Nov. 17.

A New Coach: Jim McLaughlin, head coach at Kansas State University for the past four seasons, was named head women's volleyball coach at the University of Washington on August 1, 2001. McLaughlin, who became the seventh head coach in school history, replaces former head coach Bill Neville, who announced his retirement on July 17, after 10 years at Washington.

McLaughlin spent the last four seasons building the Kansas State women's volleyball program into a national power, compiling an 82-43 record and taking the Wildcats to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Last season, McLaughlin led Kansas State to a 22-9 record, a program-best No. 16 national ranking and its first-ever trip to the NCAA Sweet 16.

Prior to a one-year stint as an assistant at Notre Dame in 1996, McLaughlin was the men's head coach at the University of Southern California for seven seasons, leading the Trojans to the NCAA title in 1990 (his first season as head coach) and a runner-up finish a year later.

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