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No. 4 Huskies Set For First Test Of 2014

Aug 27, 2014

Northwest Challenge
Boise, Idaho - Bronco Gym

Friday, August 29, 6:00 pm - Portland State
Live Stats - Live Video

Saturday, August 30, 11:00 am - Gonzaga
Live Stats - Live Video

Saturday, August 30, 4:00 pm - Boise State
Live Stats - Live Video

SEATTLE - A new season of Husky volleyball opens on Friday, and the team’s aspirations are as high as ever. Washington, ranked fourth in the nation, has made the NCAA tournament for 12 consecutive seasons, and made the Final Four last year for the fourth time in program history, claiming the Pac-12 title in the process. But the Huskies fell two wins short of the championship. Now it’s back to the starting line for every team around the country, and the Huskies are looking to embrace the challenge of improving each day, and see where that leads them.

Head Coach Jim McLaughlin begins his 14th season at the helm, and is just as excited as ever to start fresh with a group that returns many key pieces from last season, but also must integrate a number of new faces. “The returning players understand that they became a very, very good team last year,” says McLaughlin. “Now we’re in the process of developing a whole new group with different variables. But if we just move a little bit forward every day, we’re going to get down the road and look back and say we are good.”

This weekend marks the seventh consecutive year for the Northwest Challenge, pitting the Huskies against Portland State, Gonzaga, and this year’s host, Boise State. Washington opens up Friday against the Vikings at 6:00 p.m. Pacific time. The Huskies play twice Saturday, going against Gonzaga at 11:00 a.m. and then taking on the Broncos at 4:00 p.m. Pacific. All matches will be video streamed live on the Boise State athletics website.

The Huskies have won all six previous Northwest Challenges, but Gonzaga gave the Huskies an early season slugfest last year, taking the match to five sets before UW pulled it out.

Washington has eight returning letterwinners, but three redshirt freshmen and four true freshmen could see their first action this weekend. Carly DeHoog, Jade Finau, and Bailey Tanner all redshirted in 2013 and will be anxious to finally hit the court, while newcomers Crissy Jones, Reni Meyer-Whalley, Tia Scambray, and Courtney Schwan are packing their bags for their first road trip.

Leading the way for the Huskies will be senior outside hitters Krista Vansant and Kaleigh Nelson. Vansant was the AVCA National Player of the Year last season and Nelson earned Third Team All-America honors. Both were voted to the Preseason All-Pac-12 Team. The Huskies also return both starting middle blockers from last year, Melanie Wade and Lianna Sybeldon, and one of their two regular setters in Katy Beals. A starting outside hitter a year ago, Cassie Strickland is expected to suit up at libero for the first time this weekend.