Washington Volleyball Advances To Sweet 16

Dec. 6, 2003

SEATTLE - The 12th-seeded Washington volleyball team (22-8) defeated Utah in the second round of the NCAA Volleyball Championships in straight games this evening at Bank of America Arena. Game scores were 30-15, 30-20, 30-21. The win propels Washington into the Sweet 16 Regional Tournament where UW will face No. 5 seed Stanford in Long Beach, Calif., on Dec. 12.

'We were sharp start to finish tonight,' said head coach Jim McLaughlin. 'These guys executed the game plan and they did it the whole night. It was awesome.'

Washington out-hit the Utes .412 to .196, recording 57 kills to Utah's 34. The Huskies kept the Utes off balance all night with their jump serve, picking up six service aces.

Junior outside hitter Sanja Tomasevic led the team with 15 kills and eight digs, while also picking up three aces. Her first ace of the night broke the school record of 54 that had stood since 1988.

Joining Tomasevic on the offensive attack were junior right-side hitter Kaitlin Leck, who hit .650 with 13 kills, and sophomore outside hitter Brie Hagerty with 10 kills.

Setter Courtney Thompson dished 50 assists on the night, while also logging seven digs and a pair of blocks on defense. Senior middle hitter Kara Bjorklund tallied nine kills and three blocks in the win.

Washington opened game one with a fierce hitting campaign, hitting .680 as a team and committing no errors on 25 swings. The teams played even through 5-5 before the Huskies went on a 13-2 run to take the 18-7 lead. UW lead by as many as 14-points at the 27-13 mark to force a Ute timeout but the Huskies put the game away on an Utah error and kills by Tomasevic and Leck. Tomasevic had six kills in the game, while Leck chipped in five.

UW overwhelmed Utah in game two, more than doubling its kill total, 19 to nine. The Huskies led throughout the match, building a 12-point lead at 25-13. Utah scored the next three points to pull to within nine but could get no closer as UW closed out the game 30-20. Darla Myhre and Hagerty each had five kills in the game and Tomasevic picked up half of Washington's 12 digs.

After the break, the teams traded points through 7-7. The Huskies pulled away after a 7-1 run gave them the 17-10 advantage. Utah pulled to within five at the 26-21 mark but Washington scored the next four points to seal the UW victory, 30-21. Tomasevic had six kills in the game, while Leck added five.

The Huskies advance to the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history (1997), tying its best-ever postseason finish. Washington will face Stanford in the opener, with No. 4 seed Pepperdine taking on No. 13 Minnesota.

'We look forward to those guys (Stanford),' said McLaughlin. 'We are hoping it becomes a big rivalry. We beat them at home, and we are going to get them on a neutral court. We feel like in the Tournament you just have to get hot and just continue to improve. We are catching that wind. We are moving a little faster. We need to take a little rest and celebrate a little bit, and then just practice.'

'This weekend was the best weekend that we have played this season,' said Tomasevic. 'We stayed focused from the first point last night to the last point tonight. If we stay focused and do the things that we know how to do and the things we've practiced all week, we will do well.'

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