Volleyball Reaches Pac-10 Season Midway Point

Oct. 18, 2006

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THIS WEEK: The sixth-ranked Washington volleyball team (15-3, 5-2 Pac-10) travel to Arizona this week to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats, Oct. 19-20, as the Pac-10 season reaches the midway point. The Huskies, the two-time defending conference champions, are in fourth place in the Pac-10, behind UCLA and USC with 7-1 records, and Stanford with a 6-1 mark. Both of UW's matches begin at 7 p.m.

SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: The Arizona State Sun Devils (10-8, 2-5 Pac-10) picked up their second conference win last week with a sweep over Oregon State on the road. The team is led by Nicole Morton with 3.48 kills per game and Margie Giordano with 3.05 kpg. Marina Mercer handles the majority of the setting duties and averages 8.83 assists per game, while Rachel Mittelstaedt chips in 4.95 apg. Sidney Donahue anchors the Sun Devil defense with 6.83 digs per game, while Colette Meek averages 1.00 blocks per game. ASU is 0-6 against top-25 opponents this season but took No. 4 USC and No. 16 Purdue to five games. Washington leads the all-time series against Arizona State, 26-18, and has won the last seven matches in a row.

SCOUTING ARIZONA: The Arizona Wildcats (10-9, 1-6 Pac-10) split with the Oregon schools last week, sweeping Oregon State and falling to Oregon in straight sets. Brooke Buringrud headlines the offense with 3.78 kpg, while Whitney Dosty averages 3.21 kpg. Stephanie Butkus paces the Wildcat offense 11.35 apg, while Dominique Lamb and Jacy Norton average 1.56 and 1.48 blocks per game, respectively. Arizona is 1-4 against top-25 competition this season with a 3-1 victory over No. 12 Louisville on Sept. 2. UA also took games against No. 3 UCLA and No. 7 Cal. Arizona leads Washington in the all-time series 24-19 but the Huskies have won the last four matches.

HOME SWEET HOME: Washington has won all nine of its home matches this season, extending its home win streak to 25 matches, which is a program record. The Huskies won all 11 matches they played at Bank of America Arena last season and have not lost at home since dropping a five game heartbreaker to USC on Nov. 26, 2004 (28-30, 24-30, 30-25, 30-22, 15-17). Eight of Washington's nine home wins this season have come via the 3-0 sweep. The Dawgs have lost just one game at home in that time, dropping game one to Oregon on Oct. 6, 30-28.

FULL HOUSE: Washington broke the school's attendance record last week when 6,216 fans packed Bank of America Arena to see the Huskies sweep Washington State. The attendance mark is the third-highest in Pac-10 history and surpasses Washington's old attendance record of 5,712 fans that was set vs. Stanford in 2004.

UW RANKED SIXTH IN AVCA NATIONAL POLL: Despite winning its only match last week wit a 3-0 sweep over Washington State, the Huskies fell one spot in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches top 25 Poll to No. 6 (Oct. 16). Washington is ranked fourth in the most recent Molten/Volleyball Women's College Top 20 Poll (Oct. 16).

MORRISON CLIMBS UW KILLS LIST: Junior All-American Christal Morrison moved into ninth on the UW all-time kills chart last week, surpassing current UW assistant coach Leslie Tuiasosopo who collected 1,146 kills between 1995-98. Morrison's career total stands at 1,158 and she is 13 kills away from tying Brie Hagerty (1,171, 2003-05) for eighth on the UW career list.

THOMPSON JOINS 5,000-ASSIST CLUB: Senior All-American Courtney Thompson picked up her 5,000th career assist vs. Morehead State on Sept. 1 to become the first person in UW history and just the fifth in Pac-10 history to accomplish the feat. Her career total stands at 5,713 assists and counting, which ranks second on the Pac-10 all-time list. She is 522 assists away from breaking the conference record held by UCLA's Erika Selsor who tallied 6,234 assists from 1998-2001. Thompson already holds the UW single-season assists record (1,643, 2004). If her career were to end today, Thompson would also hold the Pac-10 record for assists per game average with 14.57 apg. Selsor set the current record with 14.00 apg.

ACE IN THE HOLE: Courtney Thompson has 17 service aces over this season to bring her career total to 105, which ranks seventh on the UW all-time list. Christal Morrison had one service ace over the weeked vs. Washington State to take over sole possession of the No. 10 spot on the UW all-time list. Morrison's 96 career aces surpasses All-American Melinda Beckenhauer, who had 95 aces from 1987-89.

MULTI-TALENTED MORRISON: Junior outside hitter Christal Morrison is coming off her best season yet in a Huskies uniform, earning Most Outstanding Player honors at the NCAA Championship after leading UW to its first national title in 2005. Morrison has led or tied for the team lead in kills eight times this season and has six double-doubles. She currently ranks third in the Pac-10 with 5.42 ppg and 4.57 kpg, and ranks fourth with 0.38 sapg. The Mizuno Wildcat Classic Most Valuable Player in September, Morrison has littered her name throughout the UW career record book, with the third-highest kills per game average (4.30) and points (1,366.0). She also has the eighth-highest hitting percentage (.305) in Husky history.

MORRISON NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Outside hitter Christal Morrison was named the Pac-10 Volleyball Player of the Week for Sept. 18-24 after leading Washington to a pair of 3-0 sweeps over No. 8 California and No. 6 Stanford. On Friday, Sept. 22, Morrison celebrated her 21st birthday with a sweep of Stanford and went on to lead the Huskies with 17 kills on 46 swings with no errors, giving her a .370 hitting percentage. She also picked up 12 digs and a pair of blocks. Morrison opened the weekend with a 10-kill performance against California. She went on to add an ace, three digs, and four blocks. The weekly honor marked the second for Morrison, and Washington's 18th Pac-10 Player of the Week all-time.

MARVELOUS MUSSIE: Junior transfer Stevie Mussie (Puyallup, Wash.) ranks second on the team with 4.09 kpg, while chipping in 2.58 dpg and 0.58 bpg. She has led the team in kills seven times this season, including a career-high 23 kills vs. UCLA (Sept. 28). Mussie ranks sixth in the Pac-10 in kills per game and eighth in points per game (4.67). She transferred to Washington from the University of Pacific after the 2004 season but redshirted last year after undergoing knee surgery.

SPLENDID SANDELL: Senior outside hitter Janine Sandell (London, England) joins the Washington roster after transferring from UC Santa Barbara where she was the 2005 Big West Player of the Year and an All-America honorable mention selection. Sandell averaged 5.26 kpg last season, which led the Big West and ranked eighth nationally. Her 572 kills ranked fourth on the UCSB all-time list. Sandell has made 12 starts for the Huskies this season and averages 2.00 kpg, 0.81 dpg and 0.90 blocks per game.

DAZZELING DEESING: Junior middle blocker Alesha Deesing (Salem, Ore.), a first team All-Pac-10 and honorable mention All-Pacific Region selection last season, has started every match for the Dawgs this season, averaging 2.70 kpg, 1.02 bpg and a .435 hitting percentage, which ranks third in the Pac-10.

TENACIOUS TAMARI: Redshirt freshman Tamari Miyashiro (Honolulu, Hawaii) anchors the UW defense with 4.73 dpg and has led the team in digs 14 times this season. Miyashiro was named the Mizuno Wildcat Classic Libero of the Tournament, Sept. 1, after averaging 2.89 dpg. Miyashiro has taken over the starting position at libero after the graduation of two-time All-American Candace Lee who is now a member of the U.S. National Team. Miyashiro has 14 double-figure dig performances, including 30 digs vs. USC (Sept. 29), and ranks fifth in the Pac-10 in digs per game.

STELLAR SWARBRICK: Sophomore middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick (El Dorado, Calif.) leads the team with a .444 hitting percentage, which ranks second in the Pac-10. She averages 2.63 kpg and leads UW with 1.35 bpg, which ranks seventh in the conference. Swarbrick has led Washington or has tied for the team lead in blocks 12 times, including eight block performances vs. Texas (Aug. 26), UC Davis (Sept. 15) and USC (Sept. 29).

ALL-AMERICAN GIRLS: Three All-Americans grace Washington's roster, accounting for five All-America awards. Courtney Thompson is a two-time first team All-American, while Christal Morrison was a second team selection in 2004 and a third team pick last season. Janine Sandell was an honorable mention All-American for UC Santa Barbara last year.

COACH Jim McLaughlin: Jim McLaughlin begins his sixth year at the helm of the Washington volleyball program after leading the 2005 Huskies to their first-ever NCAA National Championship and repeating as Pacific-10 Conference Champions. The Huskies finished the season with a 32-1 record and cruised through the postseason, winning all six matches by 3-0 scores, an NCAA record, to win the national title. The national championship marked the second for McLaughlin, who led the 1990 USC men to the national title. He is the only coach in NCAA history to win titles with both men and women. McLaughlin joined the Washington program in 2001 and inherited a team that finished last in the Pac-10 standings in 2000. In five seasons, he has led the Huskies to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including the 2004 national semifinal and 2005 championship, and has built Washington into one of the nation's premier volleyball programs. He has won three Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards (2005, 2004, 2002) and was the 2004 National Coach of the Year. At Washington, McLaughlin has rebuilt the program from the ground up to become just the third UW program to win an NCAA national championship, joining women's crew and football. Over five seasons, McLaughlin has developed 13 All-Americans, five Academic All-Americans and 19 All-Conference players. He has also led the Huskies to the No. 1 national ranking both in 2004 and 2005. McLaughlin has a 129-43 record at UW.

HUSKY CLASSIC RECAP: Washington went 4-0 at the Husky Classic, Sept. 7-9, defeating Portland State, UMBC, North Dakota State and Gonzaga all by 3-0 sweeps. UW won the first match vs. Portland State in its home opener to improve to 24-8 all-time in home debuts and 5-1 in the Jim McLaughlin era. Christal Morrison led the Dawgs with 4.90 kills per game, while Stevie Mussie chipped in 4.22 kpg. Middle blockers Jessica Swarbrick and Alesha Deesing led the Huskies with .545 and .434 hitting percentages, respectively. Swarbrick averaged 3.00 kpg and 1.08 bpg, while Deesing had 2.42 kpg and 1.33 bpg. Senior setter Courtney Thompson paced Washington to a .380 hitting percentage over the weekend and dished 15.92 assists per game. Freshman libero Tamari Miyashiro led the defense with 4.67 digs per game.

HUSKIES SWEEP THROUGH MIZUNO WILDCAT CLASSIC: Washington shared the Mizuno Wildcat Classic Tournament title with 15th-ranked Ohio after both teams finished competition with 3-0 records. The Huskies defeated host Davidson, Morehead State and Liberty in straight sets. Christal Morrison was named the tournament MVP after leading the Dawgs with 4.67 kills per game and 2.89 digs per game. he also tallied six service aces and four blocks and boasted a .461 hitting percentage. Tamari Miyashiro received the Libero of the Tournament award after tying Morrison for the team lead with 2.89 dpg. Miyashiro also led the team with seven service aces. Courtney Thompson was also named to the all-tournament team as she paced UW to a .364 hitting percentage, dishing 13.67 assists per game.

HUSKIES FALL TO TEXAS IN AVCA COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL SHOWCASE CHAMPIONSHIP: Washington defeated No. 15 Ohio, 3-0, in the semifinal of the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase to advance to the championship match vs. No. 8 Texas. With the teams tied at two games apiece, Washington edged out to the 13-11 lead before Texas' Destinee Hooker reeled off four consecutive kills to lift the Longhorns to the 15-13 win and upset over Washington. The loss marked the first for the Huskies since they fell to UCLA on Nov. 12, 2005 and just their second loss since the 2004 season. Junior Stevie Mussie led the Huskies with 3.86 kills per game, while junior Christal Morrison added 3.75 kpg, and sophomore Jill Collymore (Bellevue, Wash.) added 3.14 kpg. Senior Courtney Thompson paced the UW offense with 14.12 assists per game, while leading the defense with 3.88 digs per game. Sophomore middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick led UW, which averaged 3.00 blocks per game, with 1.38 bpg.

HUSKIES TO HOST NCAA REGIONAL: Washington, home of the 2005 Women's Volleyball National Champions, has been selected as one of four sites to host a 2006 regional tournament. The 10,000-seat Bank of America Arena will serve as the venue site for three matches, Dec. 8-9, from which the winner will advance to the Women's Volleyball Championship in Omaha, Neb. The other three sites chosen to host a regional include Gainesville, Fla. (Stephen C. O'Connell Center), Honolulu, Hawai'i (Stan Sheriff Center) and Austin, Texas (Gregory Gym). The 2006 selection marks Washington's second time hosting since the NCAA moved to predetermined regional sites in 2003. The Huskies last hosted a regional in 2004, the season Washington advanced to its first-ever Women's Volleyball Championship. Tickets will be on sale at the first home match on Sept. 7 vs. Portland State.

HUSKIES PICKED TO FINISH THIRD IN PAC-10: The Washington volleyball team, the 2005 NCAA Champion and two-time defending Pacific-10 Conference champion, is predicted to finish third by the league's coaches in the 2006 conference race behind Stanford and UCLA. Stanford, the 2005 Pac-10 runner-up, is predicted to win the championship, receiving 89 points, including eight first place votes. The Cardinal finished one match behind Washington last season with a 16-2 Pac-10 record. UCLA, the only team to defeated Washington in 2005, is picked to finish second after receiving 79 points, including the two remaining first place votes. Washington was right on the Bruins' heels with 76 points, followed by California in fourth with 64 points and USC in fifth with 62 points. Arizona (48), Oregon State (41), Oregon (32), Arizona State (30) and Washington State (19) round out the poll. The coaches have correctly picked the Pac-10 champion in 10 of the previous 17 polls.

UW ON THE TUBE: The Pacific-10 Conference and FSN have selected two University of Washington volleyball matches to be televised as part of its 10-match line-up. Washington's match against Stanford on Sept. 22 will kick-off the Pac-10/FSN television package, while its match vs. UCLA on Oct. 27 has also been selected for broadcast. Both games will take place in Seattle at 7 p.m. Ten Pac-10 matches will be shown on FSN throughout the season beginning Sept. 22 and running through Nov. 24. All matches will be televised on a delayed basis. The Nov. 24 game will be a wildcard match with the featured match-up announced on Nov. 13. Washington's road match vs. Stanford is up for the wildcard spot.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN: The 13-player Washington roster includes six returning letterwinners and three returning starters. The 2006 team includes two seniors, five juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen. The team represents six states and two countries, including Washington (5), Hawaii (2), Oregon (2), California (1), Texas (1), Utah (1) and London (1).

2005 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS: Washington won its first NCAA national title last season behind a record-setting postseason run as the Huskies became the first team in NCAA Tournament history to win all six of its matches in three games. UW finished the season with a 32-1 record and won its second straight Pac-10 title with a 17-1 league mark. Four Huskies earned All-America honors, including first team outside hitter Sanja Tomasevic, first team setter Courtney Thompson, second team libero Candace Lee and third team outside hitter Christal Morrison. Jim McLaughlin was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year and Tomasevic was selected as the Pac-10 Player of the Year.

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