No. 4 Huskies Trek To Pullman To Face The Cougars

Oct. 20, 2009

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#4 Washington at Washington State • 7:00 p.m.

The fourth-ranked Huskies complete the first half of their conference schedule in Pullman this Friday against Washington State. Washington currently leads the Pac-10 with a 7-1 league record and is 17-1 overall, but should have a significant challenge in store in WSU, which ranks just outside the Top-25 as the first team 'receiving votes.' The Huskies and Cougars will square off at 7 p.m. at WSU's Bohler Gym.

The Cougars are 4-4 in league play and at 15-4 overall appear on track to earn their first NCAA tourney bid since 2002. The Huskies rebounded from their first loss of the season with home wins over 12th-ranked UCLA and 16th-ranked USC last weekend. A win this weekend would assure UW of at least a full game lead at the halfway point of the conference schedule.

Washington was tested against the L.A. schools, both of which are ranked among the nation's best, but came out with the victories each night. On Friday, the Huskies were a part of Midnight Madness at Bank of America Arena, as men's basketball held its first practice after UW faced 12th-ranked UCLA. The added draw resulted in the biggest crowd of the year; 5,081 fans officially though the attendance was even higher by the end of the match. The Huskies took the first two sets before UCLA got on the board, but UW closed it out in four, 25-19, 26-24, 24-26, 25-18. Kindra Carlson led the way with 18 kills, and Tamari Miyashiro's 22 digs led five Huskies with double-figure digs totals. UW had eight aces to just two for the Bruins.

The following night, UW won the opening set off the 16th-ranked Trojans, but then hit a lull and found itself trailing 2-1 for the first time all season. Washington's defense stepped up and held USC to .071 and .077 hitting in the final two sets and the Huskies earned the comeback win, 25-21, 22-25, 24-26, 25-20, 15-10. Miyashiro had a season-high 30 digs, Carlson had another 18 kills, and Jill Collymore had a great all-around showing with 16 kills, 17 digs, two assists, an ace, and six blocks. Bianca Rowland also had a huge night with 15 kills and no errors on 24 attempts to hit .625.

Carlson, Collymore, Airial Salvo, and Jenna Hagglund all had double-doubles in both matches for the weekend.

If you miss any of Washington's home matches this year, or just want to relive the action or a particular play, remember that every match is available to watch on Comcast OnDemand. The video is taken from the live stream with all the accoutrements of your typical television broadcast. To find the Huskies, start under 'Get Local' or 'Sports & Fitness' then 'Local Sports' followed by 'UW' and then 'Volleyball.'

This weekend will mark the halfway point of the Pac-10 schedule, and the race for the conference crown continues to take shape with each passing week. At 7-1, the Huskies currently have a game-and-a-half lead over Stanford at 5-2. Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon are all tied for third with 4-3 conference records, while Washington State is alone in sixth at 4-4. The Huskies are seeking their first Pac-10 title since 2005. Stanford has won the past three titles with UW as runner-up each year.

Washington's first couple set losses at Stanford last weekend ended UW's record run of 46-consecutive set wins to start the season. The Huskies were the last team in Division-I to drop a set. Washington swept five Top-20 opponents during the string, including No. 4 Florida, No. 7 Oregon, No. 9 Minnesota, No. 15 California, and No. 18 Arizona. The previous set streak record was 36-straight which occurred at the start of the 2005 season. Washington's perfect start through the first six weeks was nothing new under head coach Jim McLaughlin. Last year the Huskies won their first seven matches before dropping a 3-2 decision at Hawai'i. The year before that Washington rolled to a 16-0 record before finally giving up a five-set loss at Cal. In the national title season in 2005, the Dawgs were 23-0 before their one and only loss at UCLA, and in 2004 Washington got off to a 22-0 start on the way to its first Final Four appearance. The Huskies also had an 11-match win streak to start the 2003 season, McLaughlin's third at Washington.

With a 10-0 run through its non-conference schedule, the Huskies ran their record against non-conference foes to 86-5 since the beginning of the 2003 season. That adds up to a .945 winning percentage out of the Pac-10. All five losses have been five-set nailbiters as well. Though its not as if UW has been shabby in league play either. Starting in 2004 when the Huskies won their first Pac-10 title, they have gone a combined 85-13 (.867) in conference matches and finished no worse than a tie for second.

Washington State is enjoying its best season in years and looks to be on track for a potential NCAA tourney bid, which would be its first since 2002. With 15 wins, WSU has already matched its season-high since the `02 season, and its four Pac-10 victories has already surpassed its totals from the last five years. WSU had a big home sweep last week against USC, but then fell victim to a sweep at the hands of UCLA. The Cougars are outhitting their opponents, .254-.199 for the year though through eight conference matches WSU is being outhit ..237-.216. Senior setter Renee Bordelon has done a nice job distributing as she ranks third in the Pac-10 with 11.61 assists/set despite no Cougar ranking in the top-10 in kills/set. Sophomore Meagan Ganzer has a team-leading 3.12 kills per set average, and senior Jackie Albright is right behind at 3.08. Three additional Cougars average more than two kills per set. Senior middle blocker Cassie Robbins is second in the Pac-10 in blocks with 1.33 per set. One of the league's top freshmen has been libero Oceana Bush, who ranks third in the league with 4.80 digs per set

Washington has run off 12-straight wins over its cross-state rivals, and leads the all-time series, 55-21. Last year Washington swept Washington State in Seattle and earned a four-set win in Pullman. The Cougars last won in 2002 in Pullman, the last year in which they advanced to NCAA's.

Washington stayed put at No. 4 in the AVCA rankings with its wins over the L.A. schools over the weekend. UW was third for much of the year until suffering its first loss at Stanford. Washington trails No. 3 Hawai'i despite Hawai'i having two losses, including a home defeat to Cal which the Huskies swept on the road. Penn State remains No. 1 and Texas No. 2. Washington did however jump back in front of Hawai'i to third in the Volleyball Magazine poll this week. The Huskies are now 7-1 against ranked opponents. Nine Pac-10 teams are now in the Top-25 or receiving votes. After UW at No. 4, Stanford is No. 6, followed by No. 12 Oregon, No. 13 UCLA, No. 15 California, No. 16 Arizona and No. 18 USC. One impressive rankings-related note is that Washington, Penn State, and Nebraska are the only three teams to have been ranked in the Top-10 by the AVCA every week for the past five years. All three teams were last out of the Top-10 in December of 2003.

Senior libero Tamari Miyashiro took down the Washington record for digs at Oregon State, surpassing All-American Candace Lee (2,038; 2002-05) in the first set. The Kaneohe, Hawai'i native is now up to 2,167 career digs and passed two more Pac-10 greats against the Arizona schools to move into third in Pac-10 history. Miyashiro succeeded Lee at the libero position, giving Husky fans eight-straight seasons of historically outstanding defensive play. A two-time National Defensive Player of the Year, Miyashiro broke the digs record despite the switch to 25-point sets last season. She also continues to lead the digs per set career list with 5.40. Miyashiro has also moved up to seventh all-time in sets played with 401, having just surpassed former National Player of the Year Sanja Tomasevic (393; 2002-05) and current assistsant coach Leslie Tuiasosopo (399; 1995-98). Also climbing the career Top-10 list is junior setter Jenna Hagglund, who at the Tampa Twice Tournament became the fourth setter in school history to pass 3,000 career assists, coming in now at 3,450 over her two-plus seasons. Hagglund recently passed Gretchen Maurer (1999-02) for third on the Husky all-time list. Also worth keeping an eye on is the impressive hitting of sophomore middle blocker Bianca Rowland. Currently hitting .502, Rowland is on pace to surpass the season attack percentage mark set last year by Jessica Swarbrick at .427. Senior Jill Collymore also cracked the Top-10 in career aces this season, and is now ninth with 105 service winners.

Washington begins the second round of Pac-10 matches in the desert. The Huskies will first take on the 16th-ranked Arizona Wildcats on Friday, October 30 at 7 p.m., then after a day off Saturday for some trick-or-treating, will be in Tempe to face Arizona State on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 12 noon.

Washington must be doing something right to be sitting at 17-1, and the stats certainly reflect that. While UW's balanced attack has prevented any one player from racking up overwhelming point totals, the Huskies have shined where it matters most--hitting percentages. The Huskies currently rank third in the nation and lead the Pac-10 with a .313 team hitting percentage. Sophomore Bianca Rowland has been the most efficient Husky, hitting at a .502 clip that is third-highest in the nation and leads the Pac-10. Even more impressive than UW's offense however, has been their defensive acumen. The Dawgs have limited their opponents to a .137 hitting percentage, and much credit there can go to two-time National Defensive Player of the Year Tamari Miyashiro who is leading the Pac-10 once again with 5.12 digs per set. UCLA is second behind the UW in opponent hitting percentage, but is well back of UW at a .165 mark. Both serving and receiving serve have been major strengths for the Dawgs. With 1.81 aces per set, the Huskies rank fifteenth in the nation and second in the Pac-10. That average is UW's highest since 1994, and with only 25 reception errors thus far, Washington is on pace to set an all-time low. Senior Jill Collymore is averaging 0.53 aces per set which is second in the Pac-10 and 12th in the NCAA. Since Pac-10 play began, Jenna Hagglund has climbed to third in assists with 12.66 in conference matches and is at 10.86 overall for the season. One of the best developments for UW in Pac-10 play has been the serve of Kindra Carlson. She had just one ace in non-conference but is now second only to Collymore in aces in Pac-10 play. Collymore has 13 while Carlson has 11.

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