National Championship: Notes and QuotesDec. 16, 2005

Post Game Quotes


Head Coach Jim McLaughlin
Opening Statement
I dont have a whole lot to say. Were gonna have some fun with this one. Nebraska is an unbelievable program and a great university. We played our best match of the year against them. It was just a good match from start to finish. Im just unbelievably happy for this group. The time they put in, its a little bit of pay-off, but more a gratification for an awful lot of hard work.

On instilling an attitude in his team &
Our approach from day one has been if you want to go after it then you have to get after it. Its a cumulative process: every day counts and it just kind of builds on itself. We had to have the appropriate mindset but we were working on that mindset day to day. (Tonight) was time to just kick butt. We hadnt played a complete match. We had played segments of games longer segments but we needed to put it all out on the floor and put it all together.

On the importance of the serve and serve receive &
Its key. There is some attractive stuff that is going on that and every other part of the game but its those little things that are important. But its the number one correlation to winning. Its just not a very glamorous part of the game, but its the most important part. Its the key for us. Every time weve won the serve receive, weve won the match Candace Lee is Candace Lee. The expectations are high for her, but shes earned those expectations. She has to play at a (high) level everyday, but she knows that. Crystal (Morrison) was big time. They were on her and on her and on her, but she withheld the pressure and she stayed tough. She did a nice job. Sanya (Tomasevic) - everyone talks about her hitting, but watch her pass. Its the thing that makes me most happy.

On Candace Lee &
Her position is not a glamorous position. She wins and makes everyone around her better. Thats the greatest sign of a great player to make people around you better. Candace is the most humble and genuine person Ive ever been around, so it doesnt make any difference to her. She knows, but the great ones know. She knows her priorities.

On not losing a game in the 2005 NCAA Championships &
We never thought about winning or streaking. We just talked about meeting our standards, and if you do, those things will happen. We were just meeting our standards. Thought its a feather in our caps, for sure.

Sanja Tomasevic, Senior Outside Hitter
On always hearing about how good Nebraska was all year&
Well, thats all wed been hearing for the last three months: that Nebraska is huge, theyre big, theyre King Kong. Were not intimidated by that. We played five teams (in the tournament) and we played a lot of good teams this year in the Pac 10.

On the Huskies defense frustrating Nebraska &
We stayed on our side of the court. We were thinking about putting up the block and making it harder for them to hit over and around. We played good defensive so they couldnt put the ball down. We wanted to play like it was the last time. And after we dug a ball, we were excited. They were hitting the ball hard and if Danka (Danicic) or Ashley (Aratani) dug the ball up, you felt like you had to get a kill after that.

Courtney Thompson, Junior Setter
On always hearing about how good Nebraska was &
Jim is always preaching that we have to focus on ourselves, especially when someone is talking about how good another team is. Its comforting to know that all you can do is get better yourself. We were ready to roll. We got a little excited last year and we werent going to make that mistake again.

On the unsung and underappreciated players on the Washington team &
Weve had a good year and therere a lot of people on our team. The same kind of people get the same individual awards over and the people like Brie (Hagerty) and the people like Darla (Myhre) and people like Candace (Lee) not to mention the seven or eight people in practice who kick our butts in practice everyday dont get anything. All we all wanted was a championship and thats all were going to remember, except maybe that Crystal (Morrison) was the most valuable player (of the NCAA Championship) because she deserves that. But were one team and every single person is important on this team.

Brie Hagerty, Senior Outside Hitter
On the teams demeanor prior to the match &
We all just seemed to have a calm about us the entire time. Before the game we werent singing and jumping around. We were just sitting and thinking about what we had to do.

Crystal Morrison, Sophomore Outside Hitter
Jim talked about in our pre-game meeting about focusing on what we needed to do: staying focused on the task at hand. We did that and we were focused. We knew what they were going to run. We were all over them and we all stepped up. We performed at a high level tonight and it was awesome.

On blocking the last point of the match &
Nebraska out-blocked us by one, but you know what? It wasnt about the blocking. It was about the serve and serve receive. But Im really glad I got the last block. (Melissa Elmer)didnt hit it, she tipped it and I was there.


Head coach John Cook
Opening Summary
We certainly had chances and didnt take advantage, and we werent very smooth tonight, and against a team like Washington youre going to make errors. Give them lots of easy balls and they are going to make you pay, and they did a very good job of that tonight. They were low error, they only missed one serve, and until game three we never really had any kind of rhythm. I dont know what we would do different. I thought we were ready to play, prepared, but thats sports.

Talk about the game plan and how you think your team did carrying it out
I thought we did a very good job, we were in the right positions, we were covering their tips, we were where they were hitting the ball. Our problem was we just didnt transition back, we couldnt pressure. Part of our game plan was we were going to serve the Libero, and sometimes in big matches you get a little tentative and start serving the ball right down the middle of the court, she passes to many balls tonight. One of the reasons they missed one serve was because we werent stressing them with our serve like we needed to, part of that is being a little tight and not putting pressure on them, we just let them off the hook too many times. But other than that, we were on them, we were prepared, I think our team knew exactly what to do, I felt really good about that part of our match tonight.

Did Washingtons serve give you problems
Yeah, we did not pass very well tonight, and they broke us down a couple of times. There were a couple of times in those first two games were they got a couple two-three point runs and when you get to a match like this, you cant give up two, or three, or four point runs, you get to far behind, and your pressing to get back, we didnt do a great job passing like we needed to.

What accounts for Washington getting more easy points tonight
Ball handling, passing, getting our setter into rhythm, and we just werent very smooth, and a team at this level, if youre just giving them easy balls, which we were, they are going to make you pay. As good defensively as we are, we actually won several of those rallies, but you cant be playing from behind or playing on the defensive all night long, and thats what this felt like for us. We just couldnt pressure them like we needed to.

Talk about the 9 service errors
Its a great question. Its anxiety, its a part of sports. I thought we played really well Thursday, weve been playing better and better the last month, I have no explanation. I dont know what we would have done differently.

Why did you call the timeout in the first match
The way it started out, we shanked the first ball, and I just didnt want us to get down five zero. Weve done that a couple of times this year, so my instincts telling me just stop it, take a deep breath, waiting around out there. There is a lot of anxiety building up and I thought, lets just take a deep breath and start over. I thought we responded pretty well to it, but thats what I was trying to avoid getting way down to start the game. You dont want to start game one playing in the hole.

Jordan Larson didnt look like she had her game hitting wise, so you think that was attributed to her youth, and on the big stage
You probably have to attribute it to that, Jordan wanted to do well tonight. Sometimes when players are pressing, she was actually trying to do too much. We were just trying to get her to relax. She was still digging balls, and I thought she was passing well. I got her in and out a couple times, shell learn from this and shell be a better player for it.

Christina Houghtelling, Jr., OH
Washingtons ability tonight to keep rallies alive, dig balls, and the impact of just being able to keep hitting it over the net
Washingtons a good team. Attacking defensively. They just did a great job, they pursued everything, and they did a great job tonight.

Melissa Elmer, Sr., MB
What went wrong this afternoon
Like coach said, we had our chances, and we didnt take advantage of them. This is the national championship match, were going to play a great team in Washington and when you dont take advantage, they are. We knew we were going to have to pass well, we didnt do that as well as we had been in the past.

What were your parting thoughts for the rest of the team as a senior
Just take what theyve learned from this match and work that much harder in the off-season to get back to this point. Its a similar situation to last season when we lost a heartbreaker in the regional finals. This team worked so hard just to get to here, this point, and we were great tonight. I just told them typical things seniors say, they mean so much to me and Ive learned so much from them, and they make me the player that I am, and I cant thank them enough for that.

Jennifer Saleaumua, Sr., OH
Talk about the 7-2 lead, address the mental aspect and did you feel it slipping away
Sometimes we tend to relax a little bit. We were up by five, but thats no excuse. We played with them. I couldnt tell you what the problem was. They just came back. Theyre a good team, and we just let them. It happens.

Match Facts
- MATCH TIME: total 1 hour, 44 minutes; 1st game 0:28; 2nd game 0:31; 3rd game 0:29
- GAME 1: 5 ties, 2 lead changes; NU largest lead 3 (10-7); UW largest lead 5 (3x, last 27-22)
- GAME 2: 2 ties, 1 lead change; NU largest lead 2 (2x, last 3-1); UW largest lead 8 (4x, last 27-19)
- GAME 3: 7 ties, 3 lead changes; NU largest lead 5 (7-2); UW largest lead 4 (30-26)

Team Notes
- Washington became just the second team in NCAA history to sweep through the entire NCAA tournament (Texas, 1988). The Huskies won 18 straight games in the tourney.
- Washington became the fifth straight Pac-10 team to win the national championship. Stanford won the title in 2001 and 2004 while USC took the crown in 2002 and 2003. The Pac-10 has won 13 of the 25 championships.
- Head coach Jim McLaughlin became the first coach to win NCAA Division I volleyball titles with mens team and a womens team. McLaughlin guided the USC men to the title in 1990.
- The Washington volleyball team became the fourth program in school history to capture an NCAA championship (football, mens crew, womens crew).
- Washington ended the year with a 27-game win streak dating back to Nov. 12, a string of nine straight sweeps.
- With the 3-0 victory, 28 of Washingtons 33 victories came via a sweep.
- Washington became the first team to sweep Nebraska since the Huskers fell in straight sets to No. 3 USC on Sept. 2, 2002.
- Washingtons 13 blocks in the match was the most by a Nebraska opponent this season.
- Washington became just the third team this season to beat Nebraska in Game 1 of a match (30-26), joining Oklahoma (Sept. 28) and Missouri (Nov. 13). The Huskers came back to win both previous matches (OU 3-1, MU 3-2).
- Washington became just the second team this season to take a 2-0 lead on Nebraska, joining Missouri (Nov. 13). The Huskers came back to beat Missouri, 3-2.
- Washington improved to 31-0 when winning the first game.
- Washington improved to 20-8 all-time in the NCAA tournament.
- Washington improved to 15-1 in 2005 against ranked opponents and 5-0 against top-10 teams.
- Washington (32-1) finished the year with the second most wins in school history. The 1978 team holds the school record with 37 victories.
- Washington improved to 8-7 against Big 12 teams all-time and 3-0 against Big 12 opponents in the NCAA tournament.
- Saturday marked Washington volleyballs first ever appearance in a national championship match.
- The 2005 Washington volleyball team was the first Husky program to play for an NCAA title since the UW softball team in 1999.

Individual Notes
- Senior libero Candace Lee tallied 10 digs to bring her career total to a school record 2,038.
- Senior outside hitter Sanja Tomasevic extended her school-record career kill mark to 1,794 with 12 against Nebraska.
- Tomasevic posted double-figure kills (12) for a team-best 27th time in 2005 and tallied her 11th double-double of the year.
- Sophomore outside hitter Christal Morrison posted double-figure kills (15) for the 26th time this season.
- Senior outside hitter Brie Hagerty posted double-figure kills (10) for the 25th time this season.


Match Facts
- MATCH TIME: total 1 hour, 44 minutes; 1st game 0:28; 2nd game 0:31; 3rd game 0:29
- GAME 1: 5 ties, 2 lead changes; NU largest lead 3 (10-7); UW largest lead 5 (3x, last 27-22)
- GAME 2: 2 ties, 1 lead change; NU largest lead 2 (2x, last 3-1); UW largest lead 8 (4x, last 27-19)
- GAME 3: 7 ties, 3 lead changes; NU largest lead 5 (7-2); UW largest lead 4 (30-26)

Team Notes
- Nebraskas .185 attack percentage was a season low and was just the second time this season NU was held under .200 in a match. The Huskers previous low was .193 in a win over Minnesota.
- Nebraskas 14 blocks marked the 30th time in 35 matches that the Huskers posted 10+ blocks in a match.
- Nebraskas 30-26 loss in Game 1 was the Huskers first game loss in the NCAA tournament. It snapped a 15-game winning streak dating back to NUs regular-season finale on Nov. 26.
- Washingtons 13 blocks in the match was the most by a Nebraska opponent this season.
- Washington became just the third team this season to beat Nebraska in Game 1 of a match, joining Oklahoma (Sept. 28) and Missouri (Nov. 13). The Huskers came back to win both previous matches (OU 3-1, MU 3-2).
- Washington became just the second team this season to take a 2-0 lead on Nebraska, joining Missouri (Nov. 13). The Huskers came back to beat Missouri, 3-2.
- Nebraska fell to 13-2 against ranked opponents in 2005.
- Nebraska fell to 2-3 all time in NCAA championship matches. The Huskers lost in the title game for the first time since 1989 (wins in 1995 and 2000).
- Washington was the first team to out-hit the Huskers this season (.237 to .185).
- Nebraska finished the season with 33 wins, tying the Huskers with Florida and Ohio for most victories in 2005.
- Nebraska was making its 24th appearance in the NCAA tournament, tied for fourth all time in championship history.
- Nebraska fell to 29-22-1 all time against Pac-10 opponents and 2-1 this year.
- Nebraska fell to 7-6 against Pac-10 teams all time in the NCAA tournament.

Individual Notes

- Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Pavan tallied double-figure kills (16) in her 11th straight match and for the 30th time this season.
- Senior outside hitter Jennifer Saleaumua tallied double-figure kills (12) for the seventh time this season.
- Junior outside hitter Christina Houghtelling tied a career high in blocks (6).

Pregame Quotes


Jim McLaughlin, Head Coach

Opening Statement
"We had a good practice today. I'm watching these guys all the time. We're ready to go and I look forward to it. It's going to be fun."

On growing the sport and the Final Four going to Omaha in 2006 ...
"I think it's a function of (former Nebraska coach) Terry Pettit. I spent time at Kansas State and I learned a lot from that guy. He is responsible for the culture in the state of Nebraska and in the Midwest. He did a phenomenal job building the club system and the power of Nebraska. It's happening in Seattle and we're doing it a little bit. I think we need to move (the Final Four) around, but it was disappointing being in College Station for a regional final and playing in front of (279) fans. We've got to do something about it, but I don't have the answers. I'm gong to take care of my program and the community, trying to build it, and my players and my coaches. I want these kids to play in front of big crowds."

Biggest challenges against Nebraska ...
"Every week we play, there are different challenges, but every day in practice, we try to accommodate all of those. Generally, with Nebraska, you look at them and they're big and physical and they can hit 30 feet. They block well. They're good. They're 33-1. We really have to approach this from our end and look at the things we do well. Maybe we can disrupt them. If we stay in system and we do the things we're capable of and play to those capabilities, we're an awfully good team. I'm not too worried about them. I just want us to go out and play to our capabilities."

On Nebraska's blocking and if there are any similar teams Washington has seen this year ...
"USC had some people that could get up and over the net. They were big and long. They could do some things. Cal had a good block. UCLA has a good block. I thought Hawaii, too. Every team is different and there are different systems. But our block in practice is a big block and we can play defense around it. I've never been one to give the block too much credit. It's important within this package, but really blocks per game don't correlate to winning. If you think about it, I'd rather have 19 digs per game than three blocks per game, and the greatest team in blocking blocks 4.2 balls a game. So it's part of the package, but ultimately, it does not correlate (to winning). I've never been concerned about the block."

On the Pac 10 and Big 12 as the top two conferences not playing each other much ...
"We need to do that, but we need to include the Big Ten. Andy Banachowski put together a really neat deal where we were going to have a challenge between the three conferences in the preseason and try to sell it to TV. And the concept was unreal and we were going to try to get the conferences to put some money into it."

On the importance of winning the first game of a match ...
"There are no little things ever. I think winning the first point is critical. Early points are as critical as late points in the rally-score format. Sure, we're gong to fight like crazy to win the first game, the first point ... try to be the first team to 10, to 20, to 30. For sure the match isn't over after you win the first game and we know that. So we're going to try to win every point."

On getting to the national championship match and if it means Washington has arrived ...
"We've arrived. We can play this game. But our whole objective is to win this match. That's what we want to do. That's why we train extremely hard and that's the ultimate payoff. We worked real hard to go win this thing. It's great being here, but we want to win this."

On Nebraska being their toughest opponent so far this season...
"We're worried about us and we just want to play as well as we can. If we meet those capabilities, we're awfully good."

Sanya Tomasevic, Senior Outside Hitter

On being quoted earlier in the year as saying Washington could "crush" Nebraska if they met ...
"I think I was misquoted there. If you know anything about our team, you know we never look ahead. And I am sure I never talked about Nebraska, and if they did ask me about Nebraska, I know I said we're looking forward to USC, UCLA or whoever. That quote was before the UCLA match. I said if we played the way we play and control the thing we know we can control, we would crush UCLA. And I stand behind that. Nebraska is a strong team and I am looking forward to playing them."

On meeting players from other teams at the AVCA All-America banquet earlier in the day in light of the quotes attributed to her ...
"The girls are totally great. We like them and we go and sit down and talk to them and they talk to us. They aren't the enemy or anything like that. They are great people and I wouldn't have a problem being their teammate or having them on my team."

On going against big blocks ...
"Our team is known for hitting hard and deep and that's something we've been working on for the past few years. Yes, it's a challenge, but I hit against Brie (Hagerty) and Crystal (Morrison) in practice every day and that's not easy. We always have a huge block. It's not 6-5, but you have to find a way around it. When you play with Courtney (Thompson) in our offense, you never know where the ball is going to go and we don't know where the ball is going to go. And if we don't know where she's going to set it, they're not going to know either."

On being in the national championship match ...
"It would be a great way to end a career like that. We have a lot of seniors on this team and an ending like that would be the cherry on top of the sundae. It would be great. But we want to make sure we play our game and we're just hoping for a great match."

Crystal Morrison, Sophomore Outside Hitter

On what changes have to be made on the attack because of Nebraska's size ....
"Nothing. We'll do what we've been doing all year: hit high, hit hard. We're going to see the block and be smart. We're going to keep being aggressive, but we're not going to back off because there is a block there. We're going to keep bringing it."

On the final being almost a road game with all the Nebraska fans in town ....
"I think that's great. To be able to play in front of a big crowd is good for the sport and it's good for the game. When I'm out there on the court, I don't really hear anything. I just hear loud cheering and I'm assuming it's for me."

Courtney Thompson, Junior Setter

On playing the national championship game ...
"Once you've been to the Final Four and know the whole idea of it, you're more relaxed the next time. Being in the final, we've already played on the court. Sure, it'll be more exciting and there is a lot of (Nebraska) red out there. But once you start playing, it's the same game."


Head coach John Cook

Comments about upcoming match
"I think this is what everybody wanted was Nebraska-Washington. We tried to play every top ten team this year and the only one we haven't played is Washington, so for us this is the final chance to prove that we are the best team in the country."

Can you beat Washington playing normally or do you have to make any adjustments specific to their personnel
"We have a game plan that we are going to work on in practice today. They are hard to defend because they are so balanced. Courtney Thompson does a great job of running their offense. They present a lot of problems for us and any team that they play, but we are looking forward to the challenge."

What do you find in Washington to be their strengths
"First of all balance, they have great hitters. They have five great hitters out there, so that is the first thing. Second thing is that they have six seniors on their team so you can see in their system they are very used to their system and very comfortable, they have a lot of experience out there, they're very good defensively. To get to this game you have to be good in all the skills so they are just a well all around team that play great together with a lot of experience."

Will tomorrow's match come down to who handles the dips and the adversity's and fights through those
"I think so. Who can get the momentum and keep it, and then when you don't have it, get it back, and that is what we talk about mental toughness, hanging in there, and just competing. You can't get caught up in what the match means, you just have to play one point at a time. We have prepared for this all season long, and this is how we approach every match. We are very confident in what we are doing. We want to play our style of volleyball, and at some point inflict our will on Washington."

Is there any team you have played that is comparable to Washington
"Missouri is very comparable to Washington. They have a great setter who runs the show and keeps them humming along, and they can attack from every position. Missouri was a very good passing team, good serving team and great defensive team, so they remind a lot in our conference that reminds me of them."

Would you call the Texas loss as a good loss to focus your team back what's important or is it a loss Washington can learn from
"We know how teams try to attack us based on the year. Texas played great down there. We didn't have our best match of the year, but it certainly was a great wake up call for us. Washington isn't going to change much because they have been successful doing what they're doing, so you have to believe in what got you here."

Being good for so long, key advantages over other teams
"These kids worked hard. They have been committed to this. We started these red bands a little less than a year ago. It is what Nebraska is all about, hard work."

With the way both teams have been dominate, do you feel you have been tested
"We feel we have been well prepared. If you look at the first team all-america team, there are more Big 12 players than any other conference, so we know we have played against some great teams this year, we have played in some five game matches. Last year we got to the regionals and we were rolling, and I think that is another reason why the Texas match, they really stepped up and forced us to really think how hard we had to play. We feel really very well prepared. I know Washington, going through their conference feels the same way."

How do you think the Big 12 and Pac 10 compare as conferences in volleyball
" I think there are three great conferences. The SEC is now becoming a fourth. Volleyball is shaping up nationally, I think it goes year to year."

Do you think this contest has gotten personal with the war of words?

Dani Busboom, Jr., S

"We are going to match well with them tomorrow."

Christina Houghtelling, Jr., OH
"When you hear comments like that you can always use it as motivation for your team."

How important is it to win the first game

Dani Busboom
"I think the first match is important, but at the same time when you win the first match it is easier and you can go out and play. You don't have to try and come back."

Do you have any strategy against these hitters

Melissa Elmer, Sr., MB
"Washington does have some great hitters. The coaches come up with a great game plan, and as a middle blocker it's my job to master that game plan."

How do you think the Big 12 and Pac 10 compare as conferences in volleyball
" I think there are three great conferences. The SEC is now becoming a fourth. Volleyball is shaping up nationally, I think it goes year to year."