Volleyball To Face #2 Stanford In NCAA Semifinal Thursday

Dec. 11, 2006

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THIS WEEK: The third-ranked Washington volleyball team (29-4) has advanced to its third consecutive NCAA Championship Tournament in Omaha, Neb., and will face second-ranked Stanford on Dec. 14 at approximately 6:30 p.m. (PT) at the Qwest Center. Top-ranked Nebraska will face fourth-ranked UCLA in the other national semifinal at 4 p.m. (PT). Thursday's winners will play for the national title on Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. (PT)

CHAMPIONSHIP TO BE TELEVISED: Washington's semifinal match vs. Stanford will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at approximately 6:30 pm (PT). The other semifinal match between UCLA and Nebraska will also air live on ESPN2 at 4 pm (PT). The national championship match will air live on Dec. 16 at 6 pm (PT) on ESPN2.

WHO'S LEFT: Only four teams remain of the 64-team tournament field, including three Pac-10 teams. Joining the Huskies will be Stanford, the 2006 Pac-10 Champion, and UCLA, which tied with Washington for second place in the conference-one match behind Stanford. Nebraska rounds out the four teams remaining to battle it out for the NCAA title.

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 24-9. 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. Washington has won 10 straight NCAA Tournament matches.

REGIONAL CHAMPIONS: Washington swept Ohio State in the regional semifinal and defeated Penn State, 3-1, in the regional final to advance to its third straight NCAA semifinal. Junior outside hitter Stevie Mussie was named the Regional Most Valuable Player, while senior setter Courtney Thompson, sophomore middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick and freshman libero Tamari Miyashiro were also named to the seven-member all-tournament team. Mussie and Miyashiro both received an equal number of MVP votes but Mussie had more votes overall to edge out the rookie for top honors. Mussie averaged 4.43 kpg and 3.71 dpg, while Miyashiro averaged 4.86 dpg. Thompson dished 14.14 apg and Swarbrick led UW at the net with 2.29 bpg.

SCOUTING STANFORD: The second-seeded Stanford Cardinal (29-3) defeated Texas in four games Saturday to advance to its second national semifinal in three seasons. The Cardinal made their last appearance in the semifinal in 2004, where they defeated Washington (who was making its first appearance in the semifinal), 3-1, en route to the national title. Stanford is the 2006 Pac-10 Champion after edging out second place Washington and UCLA by one match. The team is led by Cynthia Barboza, the Austin Regional MVP, with 4.28 kpg and 5.17 ppg. Foluke Akinradewo and Kristen Richards, both members of the Austin Regional all-tournament team, rank second and third with 3.87 and 3.82 kpg, respectively. Bryn Kehoe runs the Cardinal offense with 13.28 assists per game and has paced Stanford to a conference-leading .291 hitting percentage. Three players average three or more digs per game, including Jessica Fishburn (3.81), Richards (3.32) and Barboza (3.08). Akinradewo headlines the Cardinal blocking game with 1.42 bpg. Stanford leads the all-time series vs. Washington, 40-8, but UW has won three of the last four matches. The teams split this season with both teams winning on their home court. The teams are 2-2 all-time in the postseason with Stanford winning the 2004 NCAA semifinal and the 1994 regional, 3-0. Washington defeated the Cardinal 3-2 in the 2003 and 1988 regional semifinals.

SCOUTING NEBRASKA: The top-seeded Nebraska Cornhuskers (31-1) came back from a two-game deficit Saturday to defeat Minnesota in the Florida Regional Championship to advance to the national semifinal. Nebraska is making its ninth semifinal appearance (5-4) and has played in five championship matches (2-3), including last season's title match vs. the Huskies. The team is led by Sarah Pavan with 5.07 kpg and Jordan Larson with 4.21 kpg. Rachel Holloway runs the offense and ships in 13.39 apg, while Dani Busboom anchors the defense with 4.95 dpg. The Cornhuskers out-block the opposition 3.14-2.01 and are led by Tracy Stalls with 1.41 bpg. Washington and Nebraska are tied 1-1 in the all-time series with UW taking the 2005 NCAA Championship in three games, and the Cornhuskers winning a 3-0 match in 1993.

SCOUTING UCLA: The UCLA Bruins (33-3) advance to their first national semifinal since 1994 after sweeping Oklahoma and Hawaii in the Honolulu Regional last week. The Bruins have made 10 appearances in the national semifinal and have advanced to the championship match seven times. UCLA is led by Nana Meriwether with 4.12 kpg and 1.97 bpg with a .460 hitting percentage. Katie Carter averages 3.36 kpg and Nellie Spicer runs the Bruin offense with 13.66 apg. Smith and Colby Lyman anchor the defense with 3.49 and 3.29 dpg, respectively, while Rachel Johnson chips in 1.13 bpg. UCLA leads Washington 40-11 in the all-time series. The teams are tied 1-1 in postseason matches with UW defeating the Bruins 3-2 in 2004 to advance to the program's first national semifinal. UCLA defeated the Huskies 3-0 in the 1988 regional. The teams split this season with both winning on their home court.

HUSKIES WIN COLORADO SUB-REGIONAL: Washington defeated Colorado State and Colorado, 3-1, in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Boulder, Colo., Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Stevie Mussie led UW vs. CSU with 22 kills, while Christal Morrison added 19. Courtney Thompson dished 47 assists and Tamari Miyashiro anchored the defense with 34 digs. Janine Sandell led the Huskies' blocking game with eight stuffs. Morrison led Washington vs. Colorado with 13 kills, while Jill Collymore came off the bench to record 11 kills. Thompson had 57 assists and Miyashiro led the Huskies with 19 digs. Jessica Swarbrick posted a career-high 13 blocks vs. the Buffaloes.

HOME SWEET HOME: Washington won all 15 of its home matches this season, extending its home win streak to 31 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). Ten of Washington's 15 home wins this season have come via the 3-0 sweep.

FULL HOUSE: Washington broke the school's attendance record last week when 6,846 fans packed Bank of America Arena to see the Huskies sweep Ohio State in the regional semifinal. The mark eclipsed the record set on Oct. 13, 2006 when 6,212 were on hand for a 3-0 defeat of Washington State. The Huskies average 2,256 fans per match, which leads the Pac-10 and ranks eighth nationally.

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 6,531 career assists, surpassed former record-holder Erika Selsor of UCLA who dished 6,234 assists from 1998-2001. Thompson currently ranks third on the NCAA all-time career assists list and is 65 assists away from the No. 2 spot (6,596, Michelle Jaworski, Penn State, 1989-90). 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 14.61 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 wins over Colorado State and Colorado at the sub-regional, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, the Huskies maintained their No. 3 ranking in the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll (Dec. 4). The Huskies also held strong at No. 5 in the Molten/Volleyball Women's College Top 20 Poll (Dec. 4).

MORRISON NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Washington outside hitter Christal Morrison picked up the Pacific-10 Conference's top honor when 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 is among the league statistical leaders in points (5.35 ppg/2nd), and kills per game (4.63 kpg/2nd). 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 has led the Huskies to a 29-4 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 1,416 kills.

ALL-PACIFIC REGION: Four Washington players were named to the American Volleyball Coaches' Association (AVCA) All-Pacific Region teams, including setter Courtney Thompson and outside hitter Christal Morrison to the 12-member first team. Middle blockers Alesha Deesing and Jessica Swarbrick were named to the honorable mention team. Thompson and Morrison now advance to the national All-America ballot. They are both two-time All-Americans.

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 opponent hitting percentage (.152), assists (16.15 apg) and kills (17.15 kpg), and ranks second in hitting percentage (.287). In Pac-10-only matches, the Huskies led the league in assists (16.77 apg), kills (17.57) and digs (18.58). Senior Courtney Thompson leads the Pac-10 with 14.70 apg, while junior Christal Morrison ranks second in kills (4.63 kpg) and points (5.35 ppg). In conference-only matches, Tamari Miyashiro ranked 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 1,416 and she is 164 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 1,051 career digs.

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 29 service aces this season to bring her career total to 117, which ranks seventh on the UW all-time list. Christal Morrison leads the Huskies with 31 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 30 aces to rank second on the team.

MULTI-TALENTED MORRISON: Junior outside hitter Christal Morrison, the 2006 Pac-10 Player of the Year, has led or tied for the team lead in kills 17 times this season and has 16 double-doubles. She currently ranks second in the Pac-10 with 4.63 kpg and 5.35 ppg. 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 (5.11) and kills per game average (4.37) 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.), the Seattle Regional MVP, ranks second on the team with 3.89 kpg, while chipping in 2.57 dpg and 4.40 ppg. She has led or tied for the team lead in kills 14 times this season, including a season-high 27 kills vs. Oregon (Nov. 3). Mussie has 22 double-figure kill performances, including eight matches with 18 or more kills. She also has 17 double-digit dig matches and has 15 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 16 starts for the Huskies this season and averages 2.17 kpg, 0.68 dpg and 1.06 blocks per game. She has eight 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). Sandell is an All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection.

DAZZELING DEESING: Junior middle blocker Alesha Deesing (Salem, Ore.), a first team All-Pac-10 selection, has started every match for the Dawgs this season, averaging 2.54 kpg, 1.05 bpg and a .379 hitting percentage, which ranks fourth in the Pac-10. Deesing currently ranks second on the UW all-time hitting percentage chart with a .385 clip, and ranks sixth on the career list in blocks per game (1.13), seventh in career points (715) and 10th in points per game (3.06). She has 16 double-digit kill performances, including 18 kills vs. UCLA (Oct. 27), and has tallied six or more blocks seven times, including 11 vs. Oregon (Nov. 3).

TENACIOUS TAMARI: Redshirt freshman Tamari Miyashiro (Honolulu, Hawaii) anchors the UW defense with 5.54 dpg and has led the team in digs 27 times this season. Miyashiro was named to the Seattle Regional all-tournament team and was selected as the Mizuno Wildcat Classic Libero of the Tournament on Sept. 1 after taking 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 31 double-figure dig performances, including 36 digs vs. Oregon (Nov. 3), 34 digs vs. Colorado State (Nov. 30), 33 digs vs. UCLA (Oct. 27) and 30 digs vs. USC (Sept. 29) and Arizona (Nov. 16). Miyashiro ranks third in the Pac-10 overall in digs per game, while her 5.54 dpg average ranks second on the UW single-season all-time list and tops the career chart.

STELLAR SWARBRICK: Sophomore middle blocker Jessica Swarbrick (El Dorado, Calif.) leads the team with a .399 hitting percentage, which ranks third in the Pac-10. She averages 2.69 kpg and leads UW with 1.49 bpg, which ranks fourth in the conference. Swarbrick has led Washington or has tied for the team lead in blocks 19 times, including a career-high 13 blocks vs. Colorado (Dec. 1) in the NCAA second round, and eight block performances vs. Texas (Aug. 26), UC Davis (Sept. 15), USC (Sept. 29), Arizona State (Nov. 17), Ohio State (Dec. 8) and Penn State (Dec. 9).

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 2005 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 six seasons, he has led the Huskies to five 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, six Academic All-Americans and 26 All-Conference players. He has also led the Huskies to the No. 1 national ranking both in 2004 and 2005. McLaughlin has a 142-44 record (.763) 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 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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