NCAA Volleyball Tournament Notes

Dec. 4, 2002

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A Look Ahead
The Washington volleyball team (19-10, 9-9 Pac-10) travels to Honolulu, Hawai'i to play in the Central Regional against host and No. 6 seed Hawai'i, Colorado State and Western Kentucky in the first and second rounds of the 2002 Division I Women's Volleyball Championships, December 5-6.

The Huskies are one of 33 teams to receive an at-large bid and join 31 automatic qualifiers to make up the 64-team field.

Washington will face Colorado State o Thursday, December 5, at 5 p.m. (7 p.m. PST) while Hawai'i will take on Western Kentucky on December 5 at 7:30 p.m. The winners of the two matches will meet in the second round on Friday, December 6, at 7 p.m. (9 p.m. PST) with the winners advancing to regionals. All matches will take place in the Stan Sheriff Center on the campus of Hawai'i.

UW In The NCAA Tournament
The Huskies have made six previous appearances in the NCAA Tournament (1986, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1996, 1997) and have an all-time mark of 6-6. Washington's best finish came in 1988 when it advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to UCLA, 3-0.

Head To Head
Washington has played 38 of the 63 teams in this year's NCAA Tournament and are 148-235 (.386) all-time against these opponents.

A Look Back
Washington won its third tournament of the year last week when it defeated host Pacific, 3-0, to win the Community Bankers Classic on November 30. The Huskies also defeated Southwestern Missouri State, 3-0, on November 29, to advance to the tournament final.

Senior setter Gretchen Maurer was named tournament Most Valuable Player for her performance in the two matches which included a 14.67 assists per game average. Senior Paige Benjamin and junior Kara Bjorklund also received all-tournament honors.

Scouting Colorado State
With a 22-9 record, the Rams make their eighth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Colorado State is coming off a disappointing loss to BYU in the semifinal of the Mountain West Conference tournament, 3-2.

The Rams are led by a trio of heavy hitters, headlined by Tess Rogers (3.83 kills per game), Michelle Knox (3.43 kpg) and Andreya Downs (2.99 kpg). Melissa Courtney runs the CSU offense with 13.15 assist per game, which ranks 20th nationally. Libero Lindsay Kerr anchors the defense with 3.94 digs per game.

Colorado State and Washington will be competing in their fifth showdown with the all-time series tied at 2-2.

Scouting Hawai'i
The Rainbow Wahine (30-1) received an automatic invitation to the tournament with a Western Athletic Conference championship. UH's only loss of the season came to Stanford.

UH is led by All-Americans Kim Willoughby and Lily Kahumoka who rank among the top 15 in the nation in kills per game average. Willoughby ranks second in the country with 6.33 kpg, while Kahumoka ranks 13th with 5.21 kpg. Lauren Duggins is also a threat as she boasts the nation's 10th-best hitting percentage with a .408 clip.

A tandem of setters run the Rainbow Wahine offense including Margaret Vakasausau (8.17 apg) and Jennifer Carey (6.88 apg).

Libero Melissa Villaroman leads the team with 3.31 dpg and Duggins is UH's big blocker with 1.36 bpg.

The Rainbow Wahine lead the all-time series 1-6 against the Huskies, including a 3-1 victory earlier this season in Honolulu. Washington is one of just five teams to take a game from UH al1 season.

Scouting Western Kentucky
The Lady Toppers (33-4) boast the most wins in the country and are riding a 19-match win streak. Western Kentucky breezed through its regular season and conference tournament unscathed to win its first-ever Sun Belt championship.

Western Kentucky uses a balanced attack with three players averaging three-plus kills per game. Amanda Schiff leads the way with 3.60 kpg and a .330 hitting percentage. Crystal Towler tallies 3.26 kpg, while hitting .310 and Jessie Wagner chips in 3.38 kpg.

Running the Lady Topper's offense is Sara Noe who ranks ninth in the country with 13.48 assists per game.

Tracy May anchors the Western Kentucky defense with 4.26 digs per game, while Towler and Cynda Derbort add 0.79 blocks per game.

If the Huskies and Lady Toppers play on Friday, it would be the first match-up between the teams.

McLaughlin Tabbed Pac-10 Coach of the Year
Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin has been tabbed the Pac-10 Coach of the Year after guiding the Huskies to their best record and conference finish since 1997. In just his second year at the helm of the Washington program, McLaughlin led the Huskies to a tie for fifth place in the Pac-10 race at 9-9, while posting an overall record of 19-10. Washington also made an appearance in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches poll with a No. 21 ranking on November 4 and a No. 22 ranking on November 11. McLaughlin has a career record of 112-69 (.619) in six seasons. Prior to his arrival at Washington, McLaughlin spent five years at Kansas State where he led the Wildcats to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 1999.

Huskies Earn All-Conference Honors
Seniors Paige Benjamin and Gretchen Maurer were named to the 14 member Pac-10 All-Conference team for the first time in their careers. Benjamin, an honorable mention selection in 2001, ranks second in the conference in kills (5.28 kpg) and points (5.82 ppg). Maurer leads the league in assists (13.20 apg). Sophomore Sanja Tomasevic was a honorable mention pick as she ranks seventh in the Pac-10 in points (4.62 ppg), aces (0.39 apg) and kills (3.82 kpg) and eighth in digs (3.23 dpg).

Libero Candace Lee was named to the six member Pac-10 All-Freshman team as she ranks fourth in the conference in digs (3.53). Middle blocker Darla Myhre was a honorable mention selection as she ranks sixth in blocks (1.24 bpg) in conference matches.

Academic Accolades
Senior outside hitter Paige Benjamin was recently selected to the Pac-10 All-Academic first team and the Verizon Academic All-District first team. Benjamin, an accounting major, has maintained a 3.84 gpa and currently ranks second in the Pac-10 in kills (5.24 kpg) and points (5.78 ppg). Juniors Kara Bjorklund and Libba Lawrence were Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention picks.

Benjamin & Tomasevic Pack One-Two Punch
Senior outside hitter Paige Benjamin and sophomore outside hitter Sanja Tomasevic continue to provide the scoring touch for the Husky offense. Benjamin led Washington with 35 kills against Southwest Missouri State and Pacific last week and ranks second in the conference with 5.28 kpg. She also ranks second in points with 5.82 ppg. Benjamin has posted double-digit kill totals in 26 consecutive matches and has tallied 20 or more kills 10 times this season, including a career-high 28 kills against Arizona on Oct. 4.

Tomasevic ranks seventh in the conference with 4.62 ppg, 0.39 aces per game and 3.82 kills per game. Tomasevic has tallied 24 double-figure kill performances, including a career-high 23 kills against California.

Digging Duo
Freshman libero Candace Lee and sophomore Sanja Tomasevic have anchored the Husky defense all season. Lee ranks fourth in the Pac-10 with 3.53 digs per game, including a career-high 28 against Cal on Nov. 16. She has posted double-figure digs 19 times this season.

Tomasevic ranks eighth in the Pac-10 with 3.23 digs per game and has collected 20-plus digs three times this season. Her career-high of 25 came against Arizona State on Oct. 3.

Career Milestones
Senior Paige Benjamin became just the 10th player in Husky history to record 1,000 career kills with her 19-kill performance against the California Bears on Oct. 17. Her career mark now stands at 1,247 and is fifth on the school's all-time chart. Her 533 kills this season ranks second on the Husky season charts and Benjamin needs just 14 more kills to surpass current record holder Angela Bransom (1993-96).

Senior Gretchen Maurer also etched her name in the Husky history books this season as she tallied the 3,000-career assist mark against OSU on Nov. 22. Maurer is just the second UW player to reach the milestone and ranks second all-time at Washington with 3,098 dishes.

Big Blockers
Sophomore Alexis McDonald and freshman Darla Myhre have been essential to the Husky defense this season at the net. McDonald ranks sixth in the league with 1.18 blocks. In Pac-10 matches, Myhre ranks fourth with 1.24 bpg. Washington ranks third as a team in the Pac-10 with 516 total blocks for a 2.84 bpg average.

Leader Of The 'Dawg' Pack
Senior setter Gretchen Maurer leads the Pac-10 with 13.20 assists per game this season, which also ranks 20th on the national chart. Last year, Maurer ranked fourth in the Pac-10 and 28th nationally with 12.53 apg. Maurer ranks second on the school's all-time chart with 3,098 career assists.

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