Huskies Open 2002 Volleyball Slate at Ohio Tourney

Aug. 28, 2002

The Schedule: Washington opens the 2002 volleyball season this weekend with matches vs. Delaware, Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne, and Miami (Ohio) at the latter's Best West/Sycamore Inn Classic in Oxford, Ohio. The Huskies begin round-robin play Fri., Aug. 30, with a 4:30 p.m. EST match against Delware's Fightin' Blue Hens. Saturday's action includes a 12:30 p.m. EST contest vs. IPFW, with the featured match pitting Washington against the host Red Hawks at 7:30 p.m EST.

The Opponents: Delaware returns three starters from a 2001 squad that compiled a 10-16 record. Helping establish Delaware's attack will be juniors Alison Hunter and Sarah Engle, who each averaged over 6.0 assists per game last season. Sophomore Valerie Murphy, whose 0.74 blocks per game average led all Blue Hens' players in 2001, will spearhead the defensive effort. IPFW also is seeking to replace three starters, from a 13-14 squad in 2001. Sophomores Janelle Pollard (3.23 kpg, 2.69 dpg in 2001) and Lindi Bankowski (12.21 apg, 2.69 dpg) are chief among the veterans. The host Red Hawks, picked to finish first in the Mid-Athletic Conference by a poll of conference coaches, return four starters to a 15-12 squad from a year ago. Senior Jennifer Eaton, one of the nation's top blockers in 2001, teams with Kelly McCullogh, Erika Eagon and Susan Poll to present a formidable top-four.

The Series: While two of Washington's opponents at the Big West/Sycamore Inn Classic will be first-time foes for the Huskies, veteran members of the UW squad will remember Miami (OH), whom the Huskies defeated, 3-0, at the 1999 University of the Pacific Tournament in Stockton, Calif. Washington held the Red Hawks to a hitting percentage of just .091, and allowed just one Red Hawks player to record double-digits in kills. Current senior Paige Benjamin, then a true freshman, tallied four kills, one block and one dig in the contest.

The Captains: Washington boasts three captains in 2002, including senior floor captain Gretchen Maurer, senior Paige Benjamin and sophomore newcomer Sanja Tomasevic. Entering her second season as a starting setter, Maurer ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in assists per game in 2001 with a 12.53 average. Outside hitter Benjamin was a Pac-10 honorable mention pick last season while tallying a .290 hitting percentage. Tomasevic, a native of Yugoslavia and a member of the Yugoslavian Junior National Team, adds international experience and maturity to the outside hitter position. 'Our captains complement each other well,' says second-year head coach Jim McLaughlin. 'They have all the components of great leaders, and will lead this team as far as we want to go.'

From the Training Room: Two Huskies will not be in action this weekend as the rest of the team opens its season in Ohio. Sophomore Vanessa Gilliam has been sidelined by a broken foot since the third day of practice, and will be day-to-day for the next two weeks. Freshman Carolyn Fanny, meanwhile, will be forced to redshirt the 2002 season as the result of stress fracture, but is expected to return in 2003.

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