Volleyball Opens Pac-10 Season At Home

Sept. 17, 2002

Washington Opens Pac-10 Season At Home
After three tournaments on the road and two tournament titles, the Huskies return to the Pacific Northwest to open the Pac-10 season at home. Washington (8-1) enters the week with its best record since 1996 in which the Huskies started the season 13-1. Conference play opens on Thursday, September 19 against Oregon State (5-3) who is on a three-match skid. Washington then faces Oregon (9-3) on Friday, September 20. The Ducks are fresh off winning the DePaul Invitational. Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m. both nights.

Huskies Claim Second Tournament Title
Washington swept North Texas, Texas A&M- Corpus Christi and Louisiana Tech last weekend to win the Mean Green Classic in Denton, Texas. The Huskies have yet to lose a game in any of their eight match victories with their only game set backs coming at the hands of No. 2 Hawaii on Sept. 7. The tournament title is the second for Washington this season who also won the Sycamore Inn/ Best Western Classic in Oxford, Ohio on August 31.

Seniors Paige Benjamin and Gretchen Maurer shared MVP honors at the Mean Green Classic last Saturday for their performances in three matches. Benjamin, who also was named MVP of the Miami (OH) tournament, led all players with 51 kills (5.67 kpg), while hitting .417 (51-11-96). She recorded six aces, nine digs and five blocks. Maurer dished out 135 assists (15.0 apg) while guiding the Huskies to a .394 team attack percentage during the three matches of the tournament.

Huskies Lead The Pac
Washington leads the Pac-10 in hitting percentage (.337) and service aces (2.68 apg), while ranking second in kills (16.75 kpg) and third in assists (15.11). The Huskies also limit their opponents to a .151 hitting percentage, good enough for fifth in the league.

Big Blocker In McDonald
Sophomore Alexis McDonald has been phenomenal at the net, averaging 1.48 blocks per game to top the league. McDonald's eight block assists against Miami (OH) on August 30 and against No. 2 Hawaii on September 7 lead the Pac-10 this season. Combined, the Huskies rank third in the conference with 2.80 bpg. Washington's best block performance was against Hawaii with 15.5 total blocks, which is the most among any Pac-10 school to date in 2002.

Right On Target
Junior Kara Bjorklund leads the league with a .504 hitting percentage (65-7-115). Her best showing was an .833 hitting percentage (5-0-6) against Texas A&M- Corpus Christi on September 14. Overall, Bjorklund has recorded a .500 hitting percentage or better five times.

Maurer Power
Senior setter Gretchen Maurer leads the Pac-10 with 13.89 assists per game. Her season-high came against No. 2 Hawaii with 52 dishes in four games. Maurer also ranks third on the team with 11 aces and fifth with 21 blocks. Last season, Maurer averaged 12.53 apg to rank 28th nationally and fourth in the Pac-10. She also recorded a career-best 68 assists in a five-game loss to Oregon State on October 26, 2001.

Ace In The Hole
Sophomore outside hitter Kaitlin Leck ranks third in the conference with 0.89 aces per game, while her 25 tallies rank second overall. Leck tied a school record with eight aces in the three-game match victory over San Francisco on September 6. The record was originally set by Kara Hardesty in 1984 and was tied by Dragana Djordjevic in 1994, both in five-game matches.

Benjamin Racks In The Points
Senior Paige Benjamin ranks second in the Pac-10 with 6.02 points per game. She is second in the league in kills with 5.36 kpg and is fifth in hitting percentage at .396. Benjamin has been selected Most Valuable Player twice this season, garnering the honor at the Sycamore Inn/ Best Western Classic and the Mean Green Classic (co-MVP with Gretchen Maurer).

Tomasevic Presents The All-Around Threat
Sophomore transfer Sanja Tomasevic has proven herself one of the most effective all-around players on the 2002 squad. She leads the team in digs (79) and digs per game (2.82), while ranking second in kills (98), kills per game (3.50), aces (15) and aces per game (0.54). Her 0.54 aces per game also rank ninth overall in the conference.

McLaughlin Turns Husky Volleyball Around
Head Coach Jim McLaughlin, in only his second year at the helm of UW volleyball, has propelled the Huskies to an 8-1 start and two tournament titles. Last year, McLaughlin led Washington to an 11-16 record and a 4-14 mark in the powerful Pac10, which saw four of its teams advance to the Elite Eight. The team's 11 wins in 2001 were the most for the program since 1997, while six players earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors. McLaughlin's UW record now sits at 19-17 and he is just one win away from his 20th victory as a Dawg.

Scouting Oregon State
The Huskies open the conference season Thursday night against Oregon State (5-3). Washington leads the all-times series against the Beavers 33-21 with OSU winning both matches last season. The teams are split 5-5 over the last 10 meetings. The Beavers are on a three match slide, with loses to No. 8 Minnesota, No. 18 North Carolina and Ball State last weekend. They are led by Megan McMillan and Joscelyn Hannaford on both offense and defense. McMillan averages 3.83 kills per game and 3.10 digs per game, while Hannaford averages 3.46 kpg and 3.67 dpg. Also on defense is Nikki Neuburger who chips in 3.97 dpg. Running the Beaver offense is Laura Collins who averages 13.14 assists per game to rank second in the Pac-10, just behind Husky Gretchen Maurer.

Scouting Oregon
Washington will take on Oregon (9-3) on Friday. The Huskies hold a 40-16 all-time advantage versus Oregon with the Ducks' last victory coming in 2000. Prior to that, Washington had won 10 consecutive meetings. The Ducks enter Pac-10 play with three wins in a row over Wisconsin-Milwaukee, DePaul and UNLV. Their nine non-conference wins thus far tie their win mark from last season (9-21). Oregon is lead by Lindsay Collins who ranks fourth in the conference with 5.51 points per game. Collins tops the team with 4.32 kpg, a .374 hitting percentage and 1.22 bpg. The Ducks also receive point production from Kelly Russell (3.65 kpg) and Amanda Porter (3.56). Katie O'Neil anchors the defense with 3.23 digs per game.

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