Huskies Advance To The Elite Eight

Dec. 13, 2008

SEATTLE - The fifth-seeded Washington volleyball team upended No. 12 seed Utah, 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-16) Friday night in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. The Huskies will now face fourth-seeded Nebraska at 8:30pm Saturday night in the Elite Eight match, setting up a re-match of the 2005 National Championship match.

Washington hit .413 on the evening, the second-best team hitting percentage during the NCAA tournament in Washington history. Sophomore Kindra Carlson led the Husky hitters in efficiency, notching 12 kills with just one attack error for a scorching .611 attack percentage. Junior Airial Salvo, facing her former team, had one of her best nights in the Purple and Gold. Salvo hit a season-high .483, her best hitting efficiency as a Husky, with a match-high 15 kills on 29 attacks with just one error. Sophomore All-Pac-10 selection Becky Perry also recorded 12 kills. Pac-10 All-Freshman honoree Bianca Rowland chipped in five kills on seven swings for a .714 attack percentage.

'It was a tougher match than the score indicated,' said head coach Jim McLaughlin. 'Those guys are a good team and they have an offense that can really pressure you. We stayed on our priorities. We took care of the ball, we served tough, we hit in, and then we got on our assignments and we were in our spots. We touched a lot of balls on the block. I was working our girls the whole night that we have to be on a good offense-to-defense transition, and we were. Our create-count and our convert-count were very high. So we're happy.'

Sophomore setter Jenna Hagglund picked up another 36 assists against the Utes and tacked on six digs. Senior Jessica Swarbrick managed Washington's only two service aces, and tallied three blocks on the evening - including two block assists - putting her just seven block assists shy of breaking into third all-time at Washington in the category. Perry also chipped in three block assists.

Junior libero Tamari Miyashiro scooped up a match-high 14 digs to lead all players in that category. Hagglund tacked on six digs, while Salvo and Megan McAfee each chipped in four more.

The third set started off close, with neither team able to build a lead. The teams battled through seven ties and two lead changes before Washington put together a seven-point run, that included an ace by Swarbrick and two kills by Salvo, to take a 13-8 advantage. The Huskies held as much as an eight point lead, at 21-13, forcing Utah into its final timeout. A Washington service error gave the Utes back a point, but a Utah service error and a Utah attack error pushed the Huskies' edge to nine points, 23-14. A service error by Washington put the ball back on Utah's side of the net, but a kill by Salvo set up match point for the Huskies. Utah tallied another kill to prolong the set, but a decisive swing by Carlson ended the match in favor of Washington. The Huskies hit .382 in the third set, while holding Utah to just .185.

In the second stanza, the Husky offense was on display. Washington hit .481 in the set with just two attack errors. Utah took the first point of the set and held the lead through the set's first 25 points, fighting through four ties. Down 13-12, Washington reeled off seven consecutive points that included three kills by Carlson a solo block by Swarbrick and a block assist by Swarbrick and Perry, to take a 19-13 lead. Utah called a timeout to regroup and strung two points together coming off the break. Another kill by Carlson put Washington ahead, 20-15, but Utah answered with three straight points, causing Washington to call a timeout. The Huskies took two off a kill by Salvo and a Utah error, driving the score to 22-18. Utah scored again on a Washington service error, but then committed an attack error. The Utes got on the board again to get within three at 23-20, but Salvo managed another kill to set up set point, 24-20. Utah called a timeout, hoping to throw Washington off its rhythm, but Salvo laced a final kill down the line to take the set for Washington, 25-20.

Washington hit .387 to open the match, establishing an early 9-6 lead, including three kills by Perry, two kills by Carlson and an ace by Swarbrick. The Utes got within a point at 13-12, but Washington used a four-point scoring drive to go up 17-12, forcing Utah into a timeout. The Huskies gave a point back, but took two off a Salvo kill and a block by Perry, Carlson and Rowland. A Washington attack error gave Utah back a point. Rowland put down a kill that started a three-point mini-drive to put the Huskies on top by eight points, 22-14, forcing Utah into its second timeout. Utah gained a point on a Washington attack error, but back-to-back kills by Perry gave the Huskies set point. Utah tallied a kill and tried for another, but a big block by Perry and Swarbrick gave Washington the win in the first set, 25-16.

The Huskies will now face fourth-seeded Nebraska Saturday night in Bank of America Arena at 8:30pm PT. The match will air live on ESPNU. Washington and Nebraska last met in the National Championship match in 2005, when the Huskies swept the Huskers, 3-0, to win the first volleyball title in Washington history. Whichever team wins Saturday advances to the Final Four in Omaha, Neb. on Dec. 18.

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