Every Play, Everyday.

Sept. 18, 2003

By Mason Kelley, UW media relations staff writer -

Every Play, Everyday.

It has become the rallying cry of the Washington volleyball team since coach Jim McLaughlin took over three years ago and this year it is that philosophy that has the Huskies off to a 9-0 start.

'It has been awesome,' Husky freshman setter Courtney Thompson said of the Huskies blistering start. 'Being a freshman I don't know what to expect, but we are just taking it every play, everyday, game by game and it has worked out so far.'

This game by game mentality, will get its next test, Thursday night at 7 p.m., when the Huskies take on the Arizona State Sun Devils. This will mark both the home and Pac-10 opener for Washington, who will be looking to set a school record with their 10th straight victory to open the season. Their No. 14 ranking is the best since 1997 when the team finished the season at No. 11.

'That is always exciting, it is a neat thing,' coach McLaughlin said of his team's early season success. 'But, I think that the overriding thing is that we just keep getting better and all of that other stuff just takes care of itself. We just need to control what we can control and we are starting to do that.'

Along with taking things one step at a time, the Huskies have the luxury of three players leading the Pac-10 in various categories.

Thompson is leading the Pac-10 in assists averaging 13.61 per game. Candace Lee leads the Pac-10 with 4.43 digs per game and Sanja Tomasevic is leading the Pac-10 with 6.2 kills per game and 7.43 points per game. Having three players that are putting up huge numbers spreads energy throughout the team and has made up a large part of the team's success.

'I think it is important that different people distinguish themselves, but it is more powerful when it is collective,' McLaughlin said. 'I still like that stuff. I like seeing UW girls in the national stats.'

One of the biggest surprises of the young season has to be the play of Thompson. Only a freshman, she has established herself as one of the best passers in the Pac-10. She has performed so well that her teammates have already named her a captain.

'The magic is in the players and how they approach things,' McLaughlin said of his freshman star. 'She has got a good approach and she is not near where she is going to be someday. She is making progress everyday and that is all we measure.'

Becoming a captain as a freshman was something Thompson never expected.

'Obviously, it is very surprising,' Thompson said. 'But, I think that it has a lot to do with my role of being a setter. It is a natural leading position. Being a Husky has been fun, the girls have been awesome and hopefully it will keep going the way it is.'

She also likes to defer the credit for her assists to her teammates.

'Assists come from good passes,' the freshman said. 'I throw it up and they hit it. I need a lot for assists, so I don't think it is a very personal stat. I think it shows how good our team is.'

McLaughlin likes to keep things simple. He has a minute by minute approach to volleyball and his approach to Thursday',s match is just as easy.

'Serve and serve receive,' McLaughlin said. 'If we are doing that and we win that little battle - we win matches. We just have to keep our systems in place and play Husky volleyball.'

This season the Huskies were picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10. With a strong showing this weekend against Arizona State and Arizona they can take the first step to proving that prediction wrong. However, coach McLaughlin is not interested in thinking that way.

'We do it differently here at UW, we study that game, we set standards, we measure progress and we just train really well everyday,' McLaughlin said. 'We are not worried about that stuff. The rankings are the rankings and I don,t worry about that.'

This year the Huskies have the opportunity to have the best team in school history and if they continue to take things every play, everyday, look for the Huskies to make a strong showing in this year's NCAA tournament.