Washington Claims First-Ever NCAA Division I National Title with a Sweep of Nebraska

Dec. 17, 2005

SAN ANTONIO- The University of Washington (32-1) defeated the University of Nebraska (33-2) 30-26, 30-25, 30-26 to claim its first-ever NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship on Dec. 17 before 8,482 fans at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The Huskies, the third seed, was competing in its first-ever title match. Nebraska, the tournament's top-seed, dropped its third of five title match appearances.

'Nebraska is an unbelievable program and a great university,' said head coach Jim McLaughlin. 'We played our best match of the year against them. It was just a good match from start to finish. I'm just unbelievably happy for this group. The time they put in, it's a little bit of pay-off, but more a gratification for an awful lot of hard work.'

The volleyball team becomes just the third Washington program to win a NCAA national title, joinning women's crew and football.

'We've had a good year and there're a lot of people on our team,' said Courtney Thompson. 'The same kind of people get the same individual awards over and the people like Brie (Hagerty) and the people like Darla (Myhre) and people like Candace (Lee) - not to mention the seven or eight people in practice who kick our butts in practice everyday - don't get anything. All we all wanted was a championship and that's all we're going to remember, except maybe that Christal (Morrison) was the most valuable player (of the NCAA Championship) because she deserves that. But we're one team and every single person is important on this team.'

McLaughlin is the first coach to capture divion I titles with both the men and women after winning the national championship with the Southern California men in 1990.

The Pac-10 has won five consecutive national titles with Stanford winning in 2001 and 2004 and Southern California winning in 2002 and 2003. Nebraska was the last non-Pac-10 school to win the title in 2000.

Both Washington and Nebraska entered the championship match without having lost a game in the 2005 NCAA Division I Tournament. With tonight's sweep, Washington becomes just the second team in NCAA history to sweep through the NCAA Tournament. Texas won five matches en route to its national title in 1988, while Washington swept six matches.

'We never thought about winning or streaking,' said McLaughlin. 'We just talked about meeting our standards, and if you do, those things will happen. We were just meeting our standards. Thought it's a feather in our caps, for sure.'

The title match featured the last two Tachikara/AVCA Division I National Coaches of the Year. Nebraska Head Coach John Cook earned the award for 2005 as announced on Dec. 15, while McLaughlin captured the award in 2004.

The Pac-10 has landed at least one team in the national semifinals in 23 of the first 25 years of the tournament's history. The league has placed at least one team in the championship match in 18 of the 25 years.

The Huskies held Nebraska to an .082 team attack percentage as they came back from an 11-9 deficit with a 6-1 run en route to a 30-26 victory in game one. Leading 18-16, Washington used a 6-0 run in game two to distance itself from Nebraska to win 30-25. Washington came back from deficits of 7-2 and 16-12 as it scored a crucial 6-2 run to tie the third game, followed by a three-point run after trailing 23-22 en route to a 30-26 win.

Washington entered its final two matches of the season ranked number one in NCAA Division I for hitting percentage, while Nebraska ranked fourth. The Huskies are the first team all season to out-hit Nebraska for the match, .237 to .185. Washington is just the seventh team to hit above .200 against Nebraska this season. Nebraska ranked first in the nation in team block average, while the Huskies were ranked 18th. Nebraska held a slim 14-13 team block advantage.

The Huskies gave up more than 26 points in a game just once in the 2005 NCAA Division I Tournament (game one versus Wisconsin in NCAA Division I Tournament Regional Final at Texas A&M).

Christal Morrison led the Huskies with a team-high 15 kills and seven blocks. She added nine digs in being named the tournament's most outstanding player. Sanja Tomasevic charted a double-double of 12 kills and 13 digs. Courtney Thompson contributed 48 assists and 10 digs, while Brie Hagerty turned in 10 kills. Alesha Deesing compiled six kills for the Huskies, while Candace Lee chipped in 10 digs. Darla Myhre hit .545 with six kills to go with six blocks.

Sarah Pavan led the Huskers with a match-high 16 kills while hitting .429 with three blocks. Christina Houghtelling recorded 10 kills, 11 digs and six blocks in the losing effort. Jennifer Saleaumua hit .545 with 12 kills on 22 errorless swings to go with nine digs and three blocks. Melissa Elmer provided seven kills and five blocks. Tracy Stalls tallied a match-high nine blocks, while Jordan Larson tacked on a team-high 12 digs.

Nebraska held a 51-50 advantage in kills, but committed nine service errors to the Huskies one. Washington held a 61-51 dig advantage.

Thompson started the first game off with an ace, followed by a combined block from Tomasevic and Myhre to give the Huskies a quick 2-0 lead prompting Cook to call an early timeout. Washington built the lead to 4-1 after a service error from Houghtelling and a Hagerty kill on a long rally. Nebraska scored three unanswered points including an ace from Larson to tie the score at 4-all. After Washington took a 6-4 lead, the Huskers scored three straight capped by an ace from Dani Busboom to take their first lead at 7-6. After a Tomasevic kill tied the game at 7-all, Nebraska posted three points to the scoreboard to take a 10-7 advantage on a Pavan ace. Washington rallied back to score four of the next five points to knot the game at 11-all with two kills coming from Morrison. The Huskies regained the lead at 13-12 after a Myhre kill and Husker ball handling error. Washington extended its run to four straight points with a Tomasevic block solo and Larson error for a 15-12 lead. Nebraska blocked its way back to within one point at 15-14 as Elmer combined on blocks with Larson and Pavan. The Huskies gained a three-point 17-14 lead as Myhre and Morrison connected for kills. After Nebraska closed to within one at 18-17, Hagerty started a 3-0 Husky run with two kills pacing Washington to a 21-17 lead forcing Cook to call his second timeout. Nebraska narrowed the gap to 21-19 out of the timeout with a Pavan kill and Houghtelling and Stalls combined block. Washington picked up a 25-20 lead on three straight points including two blocks. The Huskies held a five-point lead at 27-22 after a Tomasevic kill, but the Huskers came back on consecutive kills from Dani Mancuso and Pavan whittling the deficit to 27-24. Nebraska closed to within two at 27-25 as Hagerty attacked long. Tomasevic stopped the bleeding with a kill, followed by a Hagerty kill providing the Huskies their first game point. Washington capped the first game at 30-26 as Morrison pounded a kill down the middle. Neither team hit effectively as Washington hit .087 and Nebraska hit .082. Hagerty turned in five kills, while Morrison added four kills for the Huskies. Stalls recorded five blocks for the Huskers.

Nebraska opened up game two with a 3-1 lead, only to see the lead disappear with a Washington 5-1 run that included three Husker miscues to put the score at 6-4. After a Saleaumua kill, the Huskies rattled off three more points that included a kill and block assist from Morrison to put the game at 9-5. Washington increased the lead to 11-6 after a Deesing kill and a triple block from Thompson, Morrison and Myhre. Nebraska sliced the deficit to 13-10 after a kill from Larson and a Husky ball handling error. Washington responded with a kill from Tomasevic followed by an Elmer attack error to put the score at 15-10 at the media timeout. Nebraska put down three quick points cutting the margin to 15-13 as Saleaumua slammed kills around a Pavan kill prompting McLaughlin to call Washington's first timeout. Tomasevic stopped the run with a kill out of the break and the teams traded the next six points to put the score at 19-16. Morrison ended the side-out scoring with a kill after a long rally. After Nebraska's first timeout, Myhre won a joust at the net and Larson hit long over the Washington block to give the Huskies a 22-16 lead. Morrison continued the scoring run with Washington's fifth and sixth straight points with a kills for a 24-16 lead. After a Nebraska timeout, Mancuso ended the Husky 6-0 run with a kill. After trailing 27-19, Nebraska mounted a mini-run with kills from Pavan and Saleamua around a block from Houghtelling and Stall cutting the lead to 27-22. Saleaumua scored her second straight kill out of a Washington timeout, followed by a Houghtelling kill cutting the deficit to 27-24. Washington ended the 5-0 Husker run with a point off a Nebraska ball handling error, followed by a Tomasevic kill to give the Huskies their first game point at 29-24. Morrison tallied a kill off the Husker block to lift Washington to a 30-25 victory. Washington hit .350 in the second game and held the Huskers to a .196 percentage. Morrison upped her game totals to 10 kills and five blocks through the second game. Saleaumua tallied six kills in the second game.

The Huskers erupted for a 4-1 run out of the intermission as Pavan and Larson scored back-to-back kills while Nebraska picked up two other points on Washington errors. After a Washington timeout, Pavan tallied the Huskers fourth straight point. Pavan continued her offensive presence in game three with a kill and ace lifting Nebraska to a 7-2 advantage. Washington scored three straight points on a Pavan service error followed by kills from Deesing and Hagerty cutting the deficit to 7-5. Nebraska took a four-point lead at 10-6 after a kill and block assist from Houghtelling. Washington tapped down two straight points with rally ending kills from Tomasevic and Morrison for a 10-8 Nebraska lead. After trading points for eight points, Nebraska scored consecutive points on a kill from Pavan and a block from Stalls for a 16-12 lead. Washington took advantage of three straight Husker errors that included a block from Deesing and Thompson, and an ace from Danka Danicic to put the Huskies within one at 16-15. Saleaumua snapped the Huskies' 3-0 run after a timeout with a kill, which was followed by a Pavan kill to put the Husker lead back at three, 18-15. Washington quickly tied the scored the score on a 3-0 run with two kills from Morrison and another kill from Tomasevic. The Huskies took their first lead of game three at 20-19 as Tomasevic pounded a kill followed by an Elmer error. Nebraska returned to the lead at 21-10 with a kill and block from Elmer. After trading points to a 23-all score, Hagerty pounded a kill off the block to give the Huskies a 24-23 lead. Deesing followed with a kill to give the Huskies a two-point cushion at 25-23. Houghtelling ended Washington's 3-0 run with a kill for a 25-24 Husky lead. Deesing scored a kill on a Nebraska net violation giving Washington a 26-24 lead. Tomasevic scored the next point for the Huskies setting up a Washington ace from Ashley Aratani to put the score at 28-25. The Huskies gained their first national championship point as Pavan hit the ball into the net after a wild scramble. Morrison ended the match with a block solo at 30-26.

NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship All-Tournament Team
Christal Morrison (Washington) - Most Outstanding Player
Sanja Tomasevic (Washington)
Courtney Thompson (Washington)
Sarah Pavan (Nebraska)
Jennifer Saleaumua (Nebraska)
Christina Houghtelling (Nebraska)
Kristen Andre (Tennessee)

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