Huskies Rising In the Rankings
Sept. 30, 2004
Waves are being made along the west shores of Lake Washington as the Huskies currently boast three teams ranked fourth or better in the national polls of their respective sports. The undefeated volleyball team and women's golf teams are both ranked second nationally, while the undefeated women's soccer team has ascended the polls to fourth.
The volleyball team, led by coach Jim McLaughlin, are off to a 10-0 start and have climbed the polls after starting the season ranked eighth. The Huskies returned from Los Angeles this past weekend with the school's second-ever road sweep of then No. 2 USC and No. 10 UCLA and trail only Minnesota (13-1) in the polls. The Gophers' lone loss came at the hands of the Trojans, while the Huskies last loss was to the Gophers, who themselves knocked Washington out of the Elite Eight in the 2003 NCAA Volleyball tournament.
The Huskies' roster is deep, comprised of both veteran leadership and talented youth. Senior All-American and team kills leader Sanja Tomasevic sets the tone, but the Husky machine has many cogs. Freshman sensation Christal Morrison already looks like a seasoned veteran, while sophomore setter Courtney Thompson, junior libero Candace Lee and junior blocker Darla Myrhe are all arguably the best at their positions in the Pac-10.
'We're making progress,' says McLaughlin about his team's fast start. 'It's exciting that we're getting a little bit of recognition nationally. But the important thing is that we've got to stay centered on what we're doing and continue this learning curve.'
While the volleyball team has torn up the hardwood, the women's soccer squad has ripped apart the opposition on the turf, climbing up the polls to No. 4 after being unranked when the season opened. Off to the best start in school history, the 8-0 Huskies remain one of three teams in the nation that are both undefeated and untied. The Dawgs started the year with three home victories over ranked teams, and last week beat No. 2 ranked Portland, just the second win in 18 meetings against the Pilots.
Coach Lesle Gallimore's squad is paced by the returning Co-Pac-10 Player of the Year forward Tina Frimpong and the stellar goaltending of sophomore Kelsey Rasmussen. Frimpong leads the Huskies with five goals while fellow senior Nikki Gamble ranks second on the team in scoring with three goals and three assists. Rasmussen, meanwhile, has allowed just four goals in eight games and was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week after posting back-to-back 2-0 shutouts at Portland State and Portland.
Not to be outdone by the volleyball and soccer squads, the Husky women's golf team climbed to No. 2 in the Golfweek Collegiate rankings after finishing second among 21 teams in the Mercedes-Benz Fall Preview in Bend, Ore. Only No. 1 Duke managed to defeat the Huskies at the season-opening tournament, which featured the nation's top 12 teams.
The Huskies were paced by freshman Kim Shin, who finished eighth in the Fall Preview, and junior All-American Paige Mackenzie, who finished 31st. The Huskies are also expecting big contributions from NCAA Tournament tested veterans Ashley Bickerton, Sung Ea Lee and Amber Prange.
'It is a great start to the season and a nice recognition for our team,' says Washington coach Mary Lou Mulfur about her team's highest ranking ever. 'We're pretty excited about it. We're just trying to keep up with our counterparts on the soccer and volleyball teams.'
Mulfur isn't the only one following the success of her peers at Washington. While McLaughlin has been focused on his volleyball squad, he has made time to follow the success of his co-workers.
'I'm aware of everything that happens at the UW,' says McLaughlin. 'We've got some of the best coaches in the country here. I'm impressed and just hanging out with those guys I learn a lot from them. It's a good deal and this is a great environment to be in.'
The Huskies will continue their historic seasons with matchups against formidable competition this upcoming week. The volleyball team hosts Oregon and Oregon State on Friday and Saturday at Bank of America Arena in their Pac-10 opening homestand, while the women's soccer team travels to the San Diego area for matches against the University of San Diego and San Diego State. The women's golf team hosts the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational at Sahalee County Club in Redmond, Wash., from Monday through Wednesday.
To catch all the Husky action, call the Husky Ticket Office at 206-543-2200 or visit www.gohuskies.com for the most up-to-date information.