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Huskies Open NCAA Run At Home Against Ivy League Champs

Nov 30, 2021



Mississippi State vs. Hawaii, 4:00 pm | ESPN+ 
(15) Washington vs. Brown, 7:00 pm | ESPN+ 

Winner of match 1 vs. Winner of match 2, 7:00 pm | ESPN+ 


SEATTLE -- NCAA Championship action returns to Alaska Airlines Arena this week, as Washington starts postseason play for the 20th season in a row. The Pac-12 Champion Huskies enter the 64-team single elimination tourney as the No. 15 overall seed, and will host Brown, Hawaii, and Mississippi State in a sub-regional this Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3-4. Matches will be streamed live via ESPN+ which requires a subscription at $6.99 per month.

Washington (24-4, 17-3 Pac-12) advanced to the Final Four in the most recent championships, held this past April in Omaha, Neb. An undoubtedly challenging route awaits the Huskies as they look to return to that stage, and it will start on Friday with Ivy League Champion Brown in a 7 p.m. match. The Rainbow Wahine and Bulldogs will play before the Huskies, on Friday at 4 p.m. The winners will then face off in the second round on Saturday, at 7 p.m.

This is Washington's 26th NCAA appearance, having made the tourney every year starting with 2002. Despite being picked as the Pac-12 preseason favorite, Washington battled through adversity to rise to the top again. The Huskies started conference with two five-set losses, then had an 0-2 comeback win over UCLA on Oct. 1 to avoid 0-3. The Huskies then kept climbing with tough wins in five sets at Arizona State, saving a match point, and at No. 13 Oregon which was another comeback from 0-2 down. That was part of a stretch where the Huskies lost the first set five matches in a row but came back to win each time. After a nine-match win streak was snapped at UCLA, the Huskies went on another 8-match win streak, going 24-3 in sets, to pass UCLA for the Pac-12 title. All season the Huskies were never alone in first-place in the Pac-12 until the night before the regular season finale.

Washington ended the regular season hitting .285 as a team, 10th-best in the NCAA. The Huskies ranked second in the Pac-12 with 1.70 aces per set (184 total), while ranking second in fewest aces allowed, with 63. UW also was third with 2.41 blocks per set. Six Huskies earned All-Pac-12 status, with Ella May Powell winning Setter of the Year for the second-straight season. Powell, OHs Claire Hoffman and Samantha Drechsel, and MB Marin Grote were named All-Pac-12, while MB Lauren Sanders earned honorable mention, and libero Lauren Bays was named All-Freshman Team.

Brown won its first Ivy League championship since 2001 and will be in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. The Bears swept its last six Ivy League matches and set a school record with 13 wins during league play. Brown just made a trip to the West Coast to face a Pac-12 foe last week, as it played a non-conference match at USC, falling in three competitive sets. Brown swept the Ivy League Yearly Awards with Cierra Jenkins earning Player of the Year, Beau Vanderlaan earning Rookie of the Year, Victoria Vo earning Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Ahen Kim being named Coach of the Year. UW and Brown have never met.

Hawaii returns to the NCAA tournament for the 28th year in a row, discounting the 2020 season when the Big West Conference canceled all competition. Hawaii went 18-2 to win the Big West, both losses coming to UC Santa Barbara. Hawaii was 21-7 overall on the year, including a 1-2 mark against Pac-12 teams, with a win and a loss to USC, and a 3-1 loss at Utah. Hawaii is hitting .246 on the season and holding opponents to .183. Hawaii is posting 2.58 blocks per set with 15.92 digs per set. Senior OH Brooke Van Sickle leads the offense with 3.80 kills per set, hitting .272, and has hit 36 aces. Amber Igiede is second with 2.93 kills per set, hitting .380, while adding 1.28 blocks per set. The Wahine lead the all-time series, 9-7, and won the last meeting with UW in 2019 in Hawaii, but the Huskies have won the past three in Seattle, all coming in the NCAA tournament, in 2014, 2012, and 2010.

Mississippi State has had an historic season and is ranked in the final AVCA coaches poll heading into the tournament, at No. 23. This is the first ever NCAA tourney appearance for the Bulldogs, led by SEC Coach of the Year Julie Darty Dennis. Mississippi State was the runner-up in the SEC this season behind 7th-seed Kentucky, and ahead of 16-seed Florida. MSU is on a 13-match winning streak to end the regular season at 25-5 and 16-2 in SEC play. The Bulldogs hit .243 as a team and hold opponents to .193. Senior Gabby Waden earned a spot on the All-SEC Team after leading the Bulldogs with 3.41 kills per set with a .326 attacking percentage. Lauren Myrick adds 3.07 kills per set and Shania Cromartie also posts 2.60 per set. Middle Deja Robinson averages 1.18 blocks per set and hits .311. The Huskies and Bulldogs have never met.