Dec. 3, 2010

Courtesy of Washington Athletics

SEATTLE - A victory is always sweet for the Husky volleyball team, but Friday night's win was one to savor for Washington, as it moved on to the NCAA Regional round with a 3-0 victory over 15th-seeded Hawaii (29-3) tonight at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Washington (23-8) is back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008 and the sixth time in the past eight years and will stay at home next weekend as it looks to march on through the national championships.

Seattle was pre-selected to host Regionals this season and now Washington can officially play host, and it knows its next round opponent as well, as second-seeded Nebraska advanced into the Round of 16 as well. The other two teams that will join the Huskies and Huskies are still to be determined. Washington and Nebraska will meet for the third time in the NCAA tourney in the past six years on Friday, December 10.

But for tonight the Huskies will celebrate one of their best performances of the season, as they dominated the first two sets and then held on in the third for a 25-17, 25-11, 25-23 victory in front of 2,913 fans. Senior Kindra Carlson was a force to be reckoned with, posting 18 kills on a .395 attack percentage, and fellow senior Becky Perry added 12 kills, including the final clutch put-away on match point. Junior Bianca Rowland hit .562 with 10 kills, and senior Jenna Hagglund had a double-double with 37 assists and 11 digs while running a speedy UW offense that hit a collective .328 compared to just .170 for Hawaii.

"It was just a good match, beating a team and a program like (Hawaii), it was a big deal," said 10th-year head coach Jim McLaughlin. "I like the way we prepared, I liked our mindset, just the whole day. These guys got ready to go and the closer it got to game time, I could see even a sharper focus and they played like it. They did a really good job tonight."

Hawaii had lost just twice all season and despite being seeded 15th in the tournament, was ranked No. 7 in the most recent national rankings and had been as high as No. 2 this season. The Huskies, however, were able to hold two-time WAC Player of the Year Kanani Danielson in check, as she had 10 kills but hit just .176. No other Wahine player had more than seven kills against a tough UW defense led by 18 digs from Jenna Orlandini.

"(We) fought hard, but it wasn't enough," said Hawaii head coach Dave Shoji. "We ran into a great team tonight. We just couldn't slow them down at all; they had too many weapons for us. I wish them well. They deserve to go on."

A long rally opened the match, and Carlson got the first kill off the defense and out from the left side. Carlson's third early kill gave the Dawgs a 4-2 edge. Rowland got her first kill on a slide to the right side for a 7-6 advantage. The teams traded sideouts with four ties, until a Carlson rightside kill got UW a slim two-point edge at 11-9. But the Wahine came right back to tie on an ace by Emily Maeda. Rowland on a quick middle set kept UW in front, and then Carlson hit an ace straight to the floor to make it 13-11. The point of the match, and possibly the season was a marathon rally that switched sides 10 times before Perry finally terminated it and sent the fans into a frenzy. The only drawback was that it took the teams to the media timeout with UW up 15-12.

A Perry tip kill to the middle pushed the lead to 18-14. Hagglund found Barfield in the middle and the Bellevue native punched it down at an angle for a 21-15 lead an Hawaii took its last break. UW couldn't get the ball down for two points and took timeout up 21-17. Muñoz hit off the block and it just dropped down to end the run, and then Hawaii sent one long. Kelcey Dunaway aced the Hawaii defense and then on set point, UW controlled a 50-50 ball at net and Carlson came in for the kill and a 25-17 win. Washington cooled off Hawaii late in the set, leading in attack percentage, .292-.265. Carlson had seven kills and Hagglund was stellar with 14 assists and seven digs.

Washington came out hot early in the second set, going on a 5-0 run after the Wahine had taken the first point. Again it was Dunaway on the service, and Carlson flying in for a pair of kills, while Muñoz added one, winning a battle at net to shove the ball down. Hawaii took time trailing 5-1. Rowland caught fire soon, with three kills during a another big run. After her fifth kill, UH marked her with two blockers for a rejection, but Rowland came right back for her sixth kill on the next rally.

An amazing save by Hagglund as she banged into the scorer's table eventually led to a crosscourt rocket by Perry for a 10-5 UW lead, and a Barfield kill soon after made it 12-5 and forced a Hawaii timeout. Hawaii got the next point, but couldn't keep down a Husky team suddenly firing on all cylinders. Carlson had consecutive kills and then Perry and Barfield assisted on a block for a 15-6 advantage. UW stretched the lead to double-figures at 17-7 as Muñoz put one off the back row and into the seats. Washington then made a late charge on Holford's service, rolling to the final six points of the set to close it out, 25-11. Perry had two kills during the run and then joined up with Rowland on set point to block Kaela Goodman's swing. The Dawgs were dominant statistically in the frame, hitting .516 while Hawaii was at .000 with six kills and six errors. Carlson had five kills on six swings in the set, hitting .833.

Urged on by its vocal supporters, Hawaii took a 5-3 lead early, but UW went on a 5-0 run to take back the lead. Hagglund used her All-Pac-10 outsides perfectly on one point, going to Carlson on the right, then Perry on the left, then back to Carlson on the right for the finishing blow on one rally. Carlson then got two quick swings in a volley exchange at net for a 6-5 lead as the Dawg Pack chanted her name. Two more Wahine miscues forced a timeout with UW up 8-5. Thunderous swings from Carlson and Perry kept UW moving along, and a crashing block by Rowland and Muñoz won a key rally for an 11-8 edge. UW then extended the lead two five at 13-8 after two more Hawaii misses. Hagglund went to Carlson on the pipe out of the back row and she found the back line, then Perry hit off the block and out for a 16-10 advantage.

The Wahine sided out the next few chances but missed a pair of serves, and then Rowland banged one straight to the ground with extreme velocity for a 20-14 edge. Late in the set, Washington's passing hit a lull and a 3-0 UH run made it 22-19 and forced a Husky timeout. Hawaii got another kill after the break, but Hagglund found Carlson once again on the right side and the senior broke the run with her 18th kill to make it 23-20 and force Hawaii's last timeout. Perry got a kill in transition on the next rally to set up match point at 24-20. But UW couldn't set up a good pass on their first two chances on serve receive and Hawaii cut it to 24-23, forcing UW's last timeout. Out of the break, an overpass drifted Perry's way, and she rose up and with one last swing sent the Huskies on to Regionals as the team swarmed the court.