SEATTLE – A long day of interviews, head shots, video shoots, and a practice mixed in has the Huskies ready to just get on the KeyArena court and compete on Thursday. Today the Final Four preparation ramped up with all four teams in the arena, trading spaces on the court and in the press conference room, while meeting with ESPN to film intros and footage to be used in Thursday and Saturday’s telecasts.
A few hundred fans showed up to take in the practice sessions, which was a standard affair for the Huskies, who worked on a few offensive sets and blocking skills while also running through their normal serving and passing drills in a practice that lasted around 75 minutes.
Head Coach Jim McLaughlin was joined in a media session with seniors Kylin Muñoz and Jenna Orlandini, and junior Krista Vansant. Coach McLaughlin began the session by touching on how this first ever Seattle Final Four came to be.
“I think it was about three years ago that I was called into a meeting,” said McLaughlin. “(Senior Women’s Administrator) Stephanie Rempe was there, Ralph Morton from the Seattle (Sports) Commission, and we talked about hosting the Final Four. And Seattle was ready to take on this big deal. And as a coach, I just remember thinking, wow, our administration is thinking like this and then for Seattle to step up and do it the way they've done it, it's remarkable.
“As a coach you're very thankful. And you've gotta be there. And you've gotta work real hard and take advantage of this opportunity that some other people gave you. So it's a very, very special thing to be here in front of our fans and then have the whole United States volleyball come to Seattle … These (players) have prepared every week for every challenge, and the challenges have become more significant.”
Focus understandably remained back on Saturday night’s thrilling comeback win over USC, but the three Husky players said they had moved on.
“I think we're not satisfied,” said Vansant. “I think ever since January we've been talking about what's our goal. It's never been to make it to the Final Four; it's been to win a national championship. So I think we're not being complacent. We're in the gym working hard every day to get better.”
Orlandini echoed those sentiments, saying “that game's over with. We're on to the next one. And we just gotta keep that mindset, just on to the next. Next opponent, next match, here we are.”
Washington will cap off the long day with the championship banquet tonight near the top of the Columbia Tower, then it’s down to business on Thursday with a closed practice in the afternoon, and then the match against the Nittany Lions at approximately 6:30 p.m., following the first match between Texas and Wisconsin.