Dec. 2, 2010

Courtesy of Washington Athletics

SEATTLE - The Husky volleyball team opened up its ninth straight trip to the NCAA Championships in the same fashion as the previous eight, with a victory in round one. Washington (22-8) defeated Michigan (23-10) in straight sets at Hec Edmundson Pavilion tonight to move on to the NCAA second round.

UW had a solid all-around effort, hitting .321 while holding Michigan to just .137. Set scores were 25-22, 25-17, 25-16 as the Huskies wore down an undermanned Wolverine squad which was missing its top hitter, Alex Hunt, out with an ankle injury. All-Pac-10 senior Becky Perry led the way with 10 kills, hitting .364, and her counterpart, All-Pac-10 senior Kindra Carlson, was right alongside with nine kills, hitting .348. Washington's 10 blocks and the 16 digs of redshirt freshman Jenna Orlandini anchored the defense.

The Huskies improve to 24-7 in the NCAA tourney under 10th-year head coach Jim McLaughlin, and 13-2 when playing at home. Washington is expected to be significantly tested by 15th-seeded Hawaii tomorrow night, however, as the Wahine has lost just twice all season and reached the Final Four last year. Hawaii defeated Portland State earlier in the evening. Match time is set for Friday night at 7:30 p.m., with the winner getting to stay on in Seattle for next week's Regionals.

"I thought we played better each game, passed better each game, and I think our hitting just got better," said McLaughlin. "I like that we got a little better and then our defense kicked in a little bit. It took awhile to get the percentages down, just based on a new line-up that they presented, but I liked the way we reacted to it so it was a good win."

Michigan was an Elite Eight team a year ago and finished fourth in the Big Ten. The Wolverines were ranked in the Top-25 all year long, presenting a very early test for the Huskies. But Michigan hurt itself with 13 service errors, and UM head coach Mark Rosen lamented his team's struggles in an area that was unaffected by Hunt's absence.

"I think Washington did a great job tonight. I thought they played very smooth, seven attack errors for the match tells you a lot about their efficiency and I think they did a great job," said Rosen. "Obviously, we weren't happy with our serving. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But, I liked how we battled in a lot of areas of the game, especially with as many adjustments as we had to make."

After a shaky start in set one, Perry got UW's first kill and then posted a solo stuff on the next point to tie it 4-4. Kelcey Dunaway's float serves knocked Michigan out of system on two straight points as UW went on a 4-0 run to take an 11-9 advantage. But Michigan fought back to even it up at 12 on an ace. A Michigan swing into the net and a Perry tip into open pasture got UW to the media timeout first with a 15-14 lead. After Michigan tied it again at 17, they gave the serve away with a miss, and then Barfield and Carlson stepped up to reject Karlee Bruck for a two-point edge. Carlson then got credit for the kill on a UM block error, and another great Dunaway serve forced UM into a ball-handling error and a timeout, with UW up 21-18. Michigan continued to misfire on serve, their seventh miss bringing up set point at 24-21. The Wolverines knocked it into the net for their eighth error on the next point and UW had the set, 25-22. The Dawgs outhit Michigan, .292-.211 in the set, with Perry totaling four kills and no errors on six swings. Jenna Hagglund assisted on all nine UW kills.

A quick block assist by Perry and Rowland was followed by back-to-back aces from Kelly Holford. Once Michigan handled her next serve it hit wide and took timeout with the Dawgs up 4-0. Hagglund made a diving save and Perry rolled it over into the middle for a kill, and then Carlson capped another scramble with one crosscourt in the corner for a 7-3 lead. Carlson and Barfield then met Erwin on the left side for a roof and a 9-4 edge. Rowland then ran around the side and hammered a fastball for a 12-7 lead. Barfield and Hagglund then came together for a block in the middle and a 14-8 lead. Michigan made a brief run but a controversial call went against UM when the refs said Erwin's shot grazed the antenna. After some arguing, Carlson got a kill on a block error and then crushed one down on the right side for a 17-11 lead and Michigan called timeout. Kylin Muñoz then picked up a solo roof on the left side back off Jennifer Cross out of the break. Michigan trimmed the UW lead to four at 20-16, but then Hagglund scored a dump back over her head and Perry went soft for a tip kill as well to stretch the lead to 22-16. Perry then went big with a leftside kill and then another termination on an overpass to get to set point at 24-16. UW missed its next serve but again Michigan gave it back for the set, 25-17. Perry had five kills and Carlson added four with just one error between them, while Orlandini dug seven balls.

The third set was close in the early going. Muñoz tied it up 4-4 with a kill off a Michigan tough on the longest rally of the night. The teams then traded sideouts for the next six points, until Hagglund flipped one into the deep corner for an 8-7 lead. The Wolverines mistimed a quickset, and Barfield treated it like her own pass, knocking it down for a 10-9 lead. A Carlson rightside kill was followed by a clutch Dunaway ace and the Huskies took the 15-12 lead into the media timeout. Dunaway dropped another one off the libero and down for ace number two, and then Michigan ripped its next swing long. UW broke it open with a Muñoz and Rowland roof, and then Muñoz blasted one of her highest MPH swings of the year for a 19-12 lead and a UM timeout. After a brief Michigan burst, Rowland heated up with a pair of kills, and a crushing block from Perry and Rowland opened the lead back up to 22-15 and forced another UM timeout. Rowland met McElheny one-on-one at the net on the next point and won that battle, and UW's block got the Dawgs to match point with yet another stuff. A last Michigan miss set off the celebration as UW took the set, 25-16. Michigan was held to just .062 in the third set as the Huskies picked up on UM's tendencies.

In the evening's first match, 15th-seeded Hawaii advanced with a 3-0 victory over Portland State. The Vikings made things close early, but after the Wahine pulled out the first set, 25-23, they gradually pulled away, 25-19 in set two and then 25-8 in set three.