Second Trip Through Pac-10 Takes Huskies To Arizona

Oct. 27, 2009

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    #5 Washington at #18 Arizona • 7:00 p.m.

    #5 Washington at Arizona State • 12:00 p.m.

    The second half of the Pac-10 season kicks off this weekend, and the Huskies have made the turn in a tie for first with a 7-2 league record. Washington will visit the Arizona schools, looking to earn a season sweep of both after winning the first encounters in Seattle earlier this month.

    The fifth-ranked Huskies (17-2, 7-2) will stop first in Tucson this Friday, Oct. 30, to face 18th-ranked Arizona (15-5, 4-5) for a 7 p.m. match. Washington will have the day off on Halloween, but then on Sunday the Dawgs will try and put a scare into the Sun Devils (11-10, 1-8) in a 12 p.m. meeting.

    This is the second to last road trip for the Dawgs. They'll have five of their final nine Pac-10 matches at home. Washington has picked it up traditionally in the second half of league play in recent years, going 8-1 in the final stretch in three of the last four seasons. The Dawgs are itching to end a two-match skid on the road.

    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 marks the start of the second half of the Pac-10 schedule, and the race for the conference crown continues to take shape with each passing week. At 7-2, the Huskies currently sit in a tie with Stanford atop the conference. UCLA is just one game back at 6-3 with California and Washington State tied for fourth with 5-4 conference ledgers. 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 has not lost more than three Pac-10 matches since 2003.

    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 85-14 (.858) in conference matches and finished no worse than a tie for second.

    Arizona sits in a tie for sixth in the Pac-10 with a 4-5 record. The Wildcats were a perfect 11-0 during non-conference play but have been outhit .254-.215 in Pac-10 play. Still, Arizona is 3-1 in conference matches at home at the McKale Center, with wins over Oregon State (3-2), Oregon (3-1), and Arizona State (3-1). Tiffany Owens is seventh in the Pac-10 with 3.59 kills/set. Senior Jacy Norton has upped her attack percentage in conference play, hitting .347 the past nine matches. Arizona has had trouble finding a consistent block this year, ranking last in the Pac-10 with 2.06 blocks/set, which has led to opponents hitting .214 overall vs. the `Cats, also ranking 10th. Arizona has been one of the toughest serving teams, fourth in the Pac with 1.35 aces/set. In the first meeting between the teams this season, the Huskies played one of their best all-around matches to sweep 25-15, 25-13, 25-16. The Huskies owned the stat sheet, outhitting UA .413-.094. Kindra Carlson had 16 kills and a .438 hitting percentage, while Airial Salvo hit .562 with 10 kills.

    Washington holds a 26-24 edge in the all-time series but has been the dominant team of late, beating Arizona the last 11 times they've faced off including a 3-0 sweep earlier this season in Seattle. UW's trip to Tucson last season, however, was a nailbiter, with the Dawgs needing five sets for the victory.

    Arizona State is a dangerous team despite an eight-match losing streak that has them 10th in the Pac-10. One needs look no further though than ASU's 3-0 sweep of UCLA in its Pac-10 home opener. Since then the Sun Devils have gone five sets at home against Oregon State and on the road at Washington State but fallen short. In the earlier meeting this year in Seattle, Washington was pushed in the first and third sets but came away with a 25-23, 25-16, 25-22 victory. The Huskies hit just .230 but held Arizona State to .139 on offense. Bianca Rowland had 10 kills on a .600 attack percentage and Kindra Carlson added 13 kills. Sarah Reaves led all players with 15 kills, and the junior outside hitter ranks third in the conference with 4.52 kills/set. Sarah Johnson's 23 aces are fourth-most in the Pac-10 and ASU is second behind only UW in aces during Pac-10 play with 46. Senior Paige Mittelstaedt leads Arizona State with a .371 attack percentage that ranks fifth in the league and she also is fourth with 1.21 blocks per set.

    The Huskies have won the past 14 meetings with the Sun Devils, the last ASU win coming back in 2002 in five sets in Seattle. Washington earned the sweep at home back on Oct. 2, but their last trip to Tempe in 2008 required five sets to pull out a victory. The Huskies lead the all-time series, 33-18. The first meeting came in 1986 and was won by ASU.

    The Huskies were tripped up in Pullman last Friday, falling 3-1 to Washington State. It was UW's first defeat against WSU since 2002, a string of 12 wins. Washington won the first set with ease, 25-18, and then held leads of three points or more in each of the next three sets, but the Cougars fought back in each to earn the upset 25-22, 25-21, 25-22. Washington led in nearly all statistical categories, earning more kills than the Cougars (58-53), leading in attack percentage (.239-.219), assists (57-48), and blocks (11.0-10.0). The Huskies also had five aces to three for Wazzu, but a season-high 18 service prevented UW from sustaining long runs. Sophomore Bianca Rowland led the Huskies with 15 kills while hitting .393. Senior Jill Collymore (12 kills, 11 digs) and junior Kindra Carlson (11 kills, 11 digs) both had double-doubles, while senior Tamari Miyashiro led all players with 28 digs.

    Washington slipped one place in the latest AVCA poll to No. 5, the lowest UW has been ranked all season. UW was third for much of the year until suffering its first loss at Stanford. Penn State remains No. 1 and Texas No. 2, with Hawai'i third and Stanford at No. 4 despite having three more losses than UW. Washington is also fifth in the Volleyball Magazine poll this week. The Huskies are now 7-1 against ranked opponents. Nine Pac-10 teams are currently in the Top-25 or receiving votes. After Stanford and UW, UCLA is No. 11, followed by No. 14 California, No. 15 Oregon, No. 16 USC, No. 18 Arizona, and No. 21 Washington State. 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 2,195 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 5.42. Miyashiro has also moved up to sixth all-time in sets played with 405, having just surpassed Makare Desilets (404; 1994-97) and former National Player of the Year Sanja Tomasevic (393; 2002-05). 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 3,497 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 .490, 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 108 service winners.

    Washington's first couple set losses at Stanford on October 10 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.

    Washington must be doing something right to be sitting at 17-2, 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 .308 team hitting percentage. Sophomore Bianca Rowland has been the most efficient Husky, hitting at a .490 clip that is third-highest in the nation and leads the Pac-10. As impressive as UW's offense has been their defensive acumen. The Dawgs have limited their opponents to a .143 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 5.24 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 1.78 aces per set, the Huskies just passed Oregon for the Pac-10 lead and are 15th nationaly. That average is UW's highest since the national title season in 2005 when sets had 30 points. With only 28 reception errors thus far, Washington is on pace to set an all-time low. Senior Jill Collymore is averaging 0.54 aces per set which is second in the Pac-10 and ninth in the NCAA. Since Pac-10 play began, Jenna Hagglund has climbed to third in assists with 12.55 in conference matches and is at 10.92 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 16 while Carlson has 13.

    Washington will be back home to face the Bay Area schools in a pair of matches with big-time Pac-10 title implications. The Huskies will first face No. 4 Stanford on Friday, Nov. 6, in a 7 p.m. match that will be televised on a delayed basis by FSN. The next night UW will host No. 14 Cal for another 7 p.m. start.

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