Huskies To Battle Colorado State In NCAA First Round

Nov. 28, 2006

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THIS WEEK: The second-ranked Washington volleyball team (25-4, 15-3 Pac-10) was selected as the No. 6 seed in the 2006 Division I Women's Volleyball Championships and will travel to Boulder, Colo., for the first and second rounds at the Coors Events/Conference Center. The Huskies, the defending national champions, are making their fifth-straight NCAA appearance and 11th overall, and will face Colorado State in the first round on Nov. 30 at 4 p.m. (PT). Colorado will play New Mexico State in the other first round match at 6 p.m. (PT). The winners of the first round matches will meet in the second round on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. (PT). The Huskies were one of 33 teams to receive at-large bids into the tournament after tying for second place in the Pacific-10 Conference. Thirty-one other teams received automatic berths by winning their conference championships to make-up the 64-team field.

UW IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: The Huskies have made 10 previous appearances in the NCAA Tournament (1986, 1988, 1989, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005) and have an all-time mark of 20-9. Last season, Washington won its first NCAA crown, sweeping top-seeded Nebraska in straight sets in the championship match. The sweep capped off six straight postseason wins by the 3-0 margin for the Huskies en route to the national title, setting an NCAA record.

SCOUTING COLORADO STATE: The Colorado State Rams (20-9) earned the Mountain West automatic bid to the NCAA Championship after defeating ninth-ranked Utah in the league championship. The Rams are making their 12th consecutive NCAA appearance and have posted 20-win seasons each of the last 12 years. CSU is 1-6 against top-25 opponents this season but was able to overcome a two-game deficit vs. Utah last week to win the league's automatic berth into the tournament. The team is led by Jaime Strauss and Mekana Barnes with 3.49 and 3.15 kills per game, respectively. Ashley Fornstrom has paced the Rams to a .237 hitting percentage with 12.55 assists per game, while Katelin Batten anchors the defense with 3.83 digs per game. Washington leads Colorado 4-2 in the all-time series, including a 3-0 second round win in Fort Collins, Colo. in the NCAA second round last season.

SCOUTING COLORADO: The Colorado Buffaloes (16-11) are making their 16th NCAA appearance and 15th in the last 16 years. The Buffs earned an at-large berth after tying with Iowa State for fourth place in the Big 12. Amber Sutherland and Mallori Gibson headline the offense with 4.23 and 3.41 kpg, respectively. Ashley Nu'u runs Colorado's offense and dishes 12.50 apg, while Kristen Karlik leads the defense with 4.09 dpg. The Buffs are 2-7 against top-25 competition but are the only team in the nation to topple top-ranked Nebraska, taking a five-game match from the Huskers on Nov. 11. Washington leads Colorado 2-1 in the all-time series and the teams have not met since the 1994 season when the Buffaloes won the match in four games.

SCOUTING NEW MEXICO STATE: The No. 21 New Mexico Aggies (33-3) boast the second-most wins of any squad in the 64-team field and are coming off their first-ever appearance in the WAC tournament championship match where they fell to Hawaii. The Aggies are making their third NCAA appearance in the last four seasons and are seeking their first NCAA tournament victory. Alice Borden and Amber Simpson lead the team with 3.90 and 3.19 kpg, respectively. Jackie Choi has paced the Aggies to a .276 hitting percentage with 12.04 apg, while Krystal Torres leads the defense with 4.89 dpg. New Mexico State has held its opponents to a .111 hitting percentage and has a 1-2 record against top-25 competition with a five-game win over No. 11 Hawaii. Washington leads the Aggies 2-0 in the all-time series and the teams have not met since 1980.

THOMPSON BREAKS PAC-10 CAREER ASSISTS RECORD: Senior All-American Courtney Thompson recorded 46 assists vs. Arizona State on Nov. 17 to break the Pac-10 Conference career assists record. Thompson, who now has 6,333 career assits, surpassed former record-holder Erika Selsor of UCLA who dished 6,234 assists from 1998-2001. Thompson currently ranks ninth on the NCAA all-time career assists list and is seven assists from the No. 8 spot (6,340, Cindy Cox, Colorado State, 1985-88). Thompson already holds the UW single-season assists record (1,643, 2004). If her career were to end today, Thompson would also hold the NCAA record for assists per game average with 14.66 apg. Former Colorado standout Kelly Campbell holds the NCAA record with 14.45 apg from 1996-99.

UW RANKED THIRD IN AVCA NATIONAL POLL: With a loss to Stanford and win over California last week, Washington dipped one spot to No. 3 in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll (Nov. 27). The Huskies fell three spots to No. 5 in the Molten/Volleyball Women's College Top 20 Poll (Nov. 19).

MORRISON NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Washington outside hitter Christal Morrison picked up the Pacific-10 Conference's top honor Monday as she was named the Pac-10 Player of the Year. Morrison, a three-time All-Pac-10 selection, becomes the second Washington player to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year after Sanja Tomasevic picked up the award last season. Morrison was among the league statistical leaders in points (5.51 ppg/2nd), kills per game (4.80 kpg/2nd) and service aces (0.28 sapg/9th). She earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors three times during the season, becoming just the ninth player in Pac-10 history to pick up the award three times in the same season. She led the Huskies to a 25-4 overall record and a 15-3 mark in the conference, which tied for second place. Morrison currently ranks fourth on the school's career kills list with 1,363 kills.

SIX HUSKIES NAMED TO ALL-PAC-10 TEAMS: Joining Pac-10 Player of the Year Christal Morrison on the All-Pac-10 first team were senior setter Courtney Thompson, junior middle blocker Alesha Deesing, and sophomore middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick. Freshman libero Tamari Miyashiro was an honorable mention pick and was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team, while senior outside hitter Janine Sandell was also named to the honorable mention team.

THOMPSON NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN: Washington senior setter Courtney Thompson was named to the 2006 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Women's Volleyball Second Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of American (CoSIDA). Thompson picks up her third Academic All-American award with a 3.52 grade-point average in Business Administration. Thompson becomes Washington first-ever three-time Academic All-American after earning third team honors in 2004 and second team honors last season.

HUSKIES AMONG PAC-10 LEADERS: Washington leads the Pac-10 Conference in hitting percentage (.292), assists (16.42 apg) and kills (17.34 kpg), and ranks second in opponent hitting percentage (.153). In Pac-10-only matches, the Huskies lead the league in assists (16.77 apg), kills (17.57) and digs (18.58). Senior Courtney Thompson leads the Pac-10 with 14.92 apg, while junior Christal Morrison ranks second in kills (4.80 kpg) and points (5.51 ppg). In conference-only matches, Tamari Miyashiro ranks second in digs (6.32).

MORRISON CLIMBS UW KILLS LIST: Junior All-American Christal Morrison has moved into fourth on the UW all-time kills chart, surpassing Dragana Djordevic who collected 1,305 kills between 1991-95. Morrison's career total stands at 1,363 and she is 117 kills away from tying Laurie Wetzel (1,580, 1985-88) for third on the UW all-time list.

THOMPSON JOINS 1,000-DIG CLUB: Senior Courtney Thompson picked up her 1,000th career dig vs. Arizona State on Nov. 17 to become just the sixth Washington Husky to amass 1,000 digs in program history. She now has 1,018 career digs.

HOME SWEET HOME: Washington has won all 13 of its home matches this season, extending its home win streak to 29 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). Nine of Washington's 13 home wins this season have come via the 3-0 sweep.

FULL HOUSE: Washington broke the school's attendance record Oct. 13 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 set vs. Stanford in 2004. The Huskies average 2,256 fans per match, which leads the Pac-10 and ranks eighth nationally.

THOMPSON JOINS 6,000-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. She recorded her 6,000 career assist vs. Oregon State on Nov. 2, becoming just the second person in Pac-10 history to do so.

ACE IN THE HOLE: Courtney Thompson has 25 service aces this season to bring her career total to 113, which ranks seventh on the UW all-time list. Christal Morrison leads the Huskies with 27 aces this season and ranks eighth on the UW all-time list. Junior Ashley Aratani (Honolulu, Hawaii) has also been effective at the service line, notching 25 aces to tie with Thompson for second on the team.

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 16 times this season and has 15 double-doubles. She currently ranks second in the Pac-10 with 4.80 kpg and 5.51 ppg, and ranks sixth 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 second-highest points per game average (5.15), and kills per game average (4.41), and the 10th-best hitting percentage (.292) in Husky history.

MORRISON NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK, THREE TIMES: Christal Morrison has earned three Pac-10 Player of the Week awards this season, most recently earning the award after helping the Huskies defeat Arizona and Arizona State, Nov. 16-17 to help UW extend its home win streak to 29 matches. The All-American led Washington in its victory over Arizona with a career-high 28 kills and posted 17 digs, marking her 14th double-double of the season and eighth in the last nine matches. She followed up that performance with 17 kills on 33 swings with no errors the next night against the Sun Devils for a season-high .515 hitting percentage. For the weekend, Morrison averaged 6.43 kills per game, 6.93 points per game, and boasted a .415 hitting percentage. She also won the award after helping UW topple No. 5 USC and No. 4 UCLA, Oct. 26-27. Against USC, Morrison led Washington with 17 kills and a career-best 21 digs. She continued to play well the next night vs. UCLA as she tallied 25 kills, just one shy of her career record, and recorded 13 digs. For the weekend, Morrison averaged 5.25 kills per game, 4.25 digs per game and 5.88 points per game. She also earned the award for the week of 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. Morrison is just the ninth Pac-10 volleyball player to receive three or more Player of the Week honors in a single season.

MARVELOUS MUSSIE: Junior transfer Stevie Mussie (Puyallup, Wash.) ranks second on the team with 3.86 kpg, while chipping in 2.52 dpg and 4.35 ppg. She has led or tied for the team lead in kills 11 times this season, including a season-high 27 kills vs. Oregon (Nov. 3). Mussie has 19 double-figure kill performances, including seven matches with 18 or more kills. She also has 14 double-digit dig matches and has 12 double-doubles. Mussie 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 15 starts for the Huskies this season and averages 2.15 kpg, 0.74 dpg and 0.97 blocks per game. She has seven double-figure kill performances, including 13 kills vs. Arizona (Oct. 20), and three matches with six or more blocks, including eight vs. USC (Sept. 29).

DAZZELING DEESING: Junior middle blocker Alesha Deesing (Salem, Ore.), a first team All-Pac-10 and honorable mention All-Pacific Region selection last year, has started every match for the Dawgs this season, averaging 2.58 kpg, 1.09 bpg and a .380 hitting percentage, which ranks fourth in the Pac-10. Deesing currently ranks second on the UW all-time hitting percentage chart with a .387 clip, and ranks fifth on the career list in blocks per game (1.16), seventh in career points (675) and ninth in points per game (3.08). She has 15 double-digit kill performances, including 18 kills vs. UCLA (Oct. 27), and has tallied six or more blocks six times, including 11 vs. Oregon (Nov. 3).

TENACIOUS TAMARI: Redshirt freshman Tamari Miyashiro (Honolulu, Hawaii) anchors the UW defense with 5.50 dpg and has led the team in digs 23times this season. Miyashiro was named the Mizuno Wildcat Classic Libero of the Tournament on Sept. 1, and 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 27 double-figure dig performances, including 36 digs vs. Oregon (Nov. 3), 33 digs vs. UCLA (Oct. 27) and 30 digs vs. USC (Sept. 29) and Arizona (Nov. 16). Miyashiro ranks fourth in the Pac-10 overall in digs per game, while her 5.50 dpg average ranks second on the UW single-season all-time list and tops the career chart behind.

STELLAR SWARBRICK: Sophomore middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick (El Dorado, Calif.) leads the team with a .406 hitting percentage, which ranks third in the Pac-10. She averages 2.72 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 16 times, including eight block performances vs. Texas (Aug. 26), UC Davis (Sept. 15), USC (Sept. 29) and Arizona State (Nov. 17).

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 is in 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 139-44 record (.759) at UW.

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.

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 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 PICKED TO FINISH THIRD IN PAC-10: The Washington volleyball team, the 2005 NCAA Champion and two-time defending Pacific-10 Conference champion, was 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 11 of the previous 18 polls, including this season.

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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