Huskies And Cougars Square Off Saturday

Nov. 19, 2009

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#4 Washington vs. Washington State • 7:00 p.m. • FSN

Just three matches remain in the regular season, and that means just three more chances for the fourth-ranked Washington volleyball team to hone its skills before the NCAA Championships, and three more teams stand between them and a possible Pac-10 title. The Huskies (21-4, 11-4 Pac-10) are at home from here until NCAAs, and host rival Washington State (17-10, 5-10 Pac-10) this Saturday, Nov. 21, in a 7 p.m. match that will be taped and shown by FSN on a delayed basis.

Washington will be looking for a measure of revenge on the Cougars, who upset the Huskies, 3-1, in Pullman back on October 23. That was WSU's first win in the series since 2002.

The Huskies are focused on one set at a time, but if they can beat WSU and then earn home wins next week versus the Oregon schools, the UW would clinch a share of the Pac-10 Championship. Currently they are tied with Stanford and a half-game up on UCLA but are the only team that won't make another road trip.

Saturday's match will be UW-KJR Dads & Daughters Day. Packages can still be purchased at and after the match, participants will be able to take part in a Q&A with Husky athletes and coaches.

The Huskies took their final regular season road trip to Los Angeles last week, and went from heartbreak to elation in a 24-hour period. Washington fell out of first-place in the Pac-10 standings after a 3-2 loss at No. 17 USC on Friday, but then jumped right back into the top spot the very next night, after sweeping 6th-ranked UCLA. Washington snapped its first losing streak of the year at two matches against the Bruins, and also ended a seven-match UCLA win streak with the 3-0 win. Against the Bruins, junior Kindra Carlson had a double-double with 18 kills and 11 digs, while junior Jenna Hagglund had 40 assists and a season-high 18 digs. Washington held the Bruins to a season-low .101 hitting percentage, rolling to a 25-19, 25-18, 25-21 win. One night prior, UW took a 2-1 lead at USC, but the Trojans came back to win the final two sets, 25-21, and 15-13, handing UW its third loss in five sets this year. Airial Salvo was the biggest bright spot in the loss, earning 17 kills and 18 digs while hitting .390. UW's .196 attack percentage was its lowest of the season while USC hit just .205. Washington blocked extremely well all weekend, outblocking the Trojans, 17.5-13.0, and then surpassing the Bruins, the Pac-10 leaders in blocks, 10.5-6.0.

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.'

Only three matches now remain in the regular season and the Pac-10 slate, and the race for the conference crown is as tight as ever. At 11-4, the Huskies are currently tied with Stanford, and a half-game up on UCLA, though the Bruins are even in the loss column at 10-4. Stanford travels to the Arizona schools this weekend, then closes out at home against 11th-ranked California, which is fourth in the conference race at 10-5. UCLA will travel to the Oregon schools this weekend, then end at home against the Arizonas. Every Pac-10 team has at least four conference losses for the first time in history, and in fact no conference champ had ever had more than two losses prior to this season. 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. This is the first year UW has lost more than three Pac-10 matches since 2003, yet they would still win the league with wins in their last three matches.

Washington State has been enjoying its best season since its last tournament appearance in 2002. An indicator of WSU's improvement came when the Cougars upset the Huskies, 3-1, in Pullman, which remains UW's worst loss of the year in terms of sets. That snapped a 12-match losing streak to UW. The Cougars have been ranked much of the year, and have five conference wins for the first time since 2003. They got off to a 12-0 start to the season, but now have lost their past six Pac-10 matches since upsetting the Huskies. The Cougars are eighth in the Pac-10 standings with a 5-10 record. Their only Pac-10 road win was a 3-0 sweep at Oregon State in the Pac-10 opener back in September. Additional wins came over the Arizona schools and USC at home. Senior setter Renee Bordelon ranks third in the Pac-10 with 11.55 assists per set, while freshman libero Oceana Bush is third in the league with 4.77 digs per set. Junior Cassie Robbins is also third in the Pac-10 in blocks with 1.26 b/s. Sophomore Meagan Ganzer's 3.12 kills per set lead the Cougs, and she has upped that average to 3.42 in Pac-10 matches.

Washington State broke Washington's 12-match series win streak in the year's first meeting in Pullman, scoring an 18-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 victory. The Huskies suffered from a season-high 18 service errors in that match. That was WSU's first win in the series since 2002. Washington still leads the all-time series, 55-22. The Cougars have not won in Seattle since 2001, and UW owns a 19-4 edge against the Cougars at home. Last year Washington swept Washington State in Seattle.

The Huskies stayed put in the No. 4 spot in this week's AVCA poll. 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 Illinois fifth, the same lineup as last week. The first change came at six and seven, where Stanford and UCLA swapped places; the Cardinal moving up to No. 6. Washington is also fourth in the Volleyball Magazine poll this week. The Huskies are now 10-3 against ranked opponents and an impressive 5-1 against Top-10 teams. Nine Pac-10 teams are currently in the Top-25 or receiving votes. After UW at four, Stanford at six and UCLA at seven comes No. 12 California, No. 15 USC, No. 18 Oregon, and No. 19 Arizona. Washington State and Oregon State are receiving votes. 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 2,305 career digs and recently passed Oregon's Katie Swoboda (2005-08) for second in Pac-10 history. Only Arizona State's Sydney Donahue (2004-07) owns more digs with 2,385. 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 5.39. Miyashiro has also moved up to sixth all-time in sets played with 428, and is five sets away from tying Christal Morrison (433; 2004-07) for fourth on the career list. Also climbing the career Top-10 list is junior setter Jenna Hagglund, who has already become the second-most prolific setter in Washington history. Hagglund now has 3,754 assists, surpassing Melinda Beckenhauer (3,707; 1987-89) last weekend in Los Angeles. Also worth keeping an eye on is the impressive hitting of sophomore middle blocker Bianca Rowland. Currently hitting .431, Rowland is threatening 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 just passed Courtney Thompason (2003-06) for eighth with 119 service winners. Senior Airial Salvo also recently became a member of the exclusive 1,000 kills-1,000 digs club adding in her two years at Utah. Salvo now has 1,389 kills and 1,136 digs.

There are a lot of numbers that go into Washington's 21-4 record, most of them quite impressive. As the season has progressed, junior Kindra Carlson has become UW's go-to option outside, and she now ranks seventh in the Pac-10 with 3.95 kills per set. Washington's hitting percentages continue to rank among the nation's best. The Huskies currently rank ninth in the nation and lead the Pac-10 with a .286 team hitting percentage. Sophomore Bianca Rowland has been the most efficient Husky, hitting at a .431 clip that is fourth-highest in the nation and leads the Pac-10 by nearly fifty percentage points. As impressive as UW's offense has been their defensive acumen. The Dawgs have limited their opponents to a .158 hitting percentage, and much credit there can go to two-time National Defensive Player of the Year Tamari Miyashiro who is second in the Pac-10 with 5.12 digs per set. Both serving and receiving serve have been major strengths for the Dawgs. With 1.62 aces per set, the Huskies lead the Pac-10. That average is UW's highest since the national title season in 2005 when sets had 30 points. With only 42 reception errors thus far, Washington is on pace to set an all-time low. Senior Jill Collymore is averaging 0.52 aces per set which leads the Pac-10 and is 10th in the NCAA. Since Pac-10 play began, Jenna Hagglund has climbed to third in assists with 11.98 in conference matches and is at 10.99 overall for the season. One of the best developments for UW in Pac-10 play has been the serve of Carlson. She had just one ace in non-conference but is now second only to Collymore in aces in Pac-10 play. Collymore has 27 while Carlson has 18.

Washington closes out the regular season at home, hosting the Oregon schools. Oregon State visits for a mid-week match, next Wednesday the 27th at 7 p.m. The Huskies will then cap the regular season with a 7 p.m. Friday night match against 18th-ranked Oregon. NCAA selections will be made that weekend.

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