Dunaway Makes A Name For Herself In The Middle
Sept. 10, 2009
One of the most pleasant surprises to come out of Washington's tournament win last weekend at the Northwest Challenge in Portland was the play of redshirt freshman middle blocker Kelcey Dunaway. The Bainbridge Island native was one of three Huskies named to the All-Tournament Team (along with Tamari Miyashiro and MVP Becky Perry) after recording a tournament-high 19 blocks in three UW sweeps.
On Friday against Boise State, Dunaway tallied eight blocks in just her fourth career match, and followed that with six and five blocks against Gonzaga and Portland State, respectively. Dunaway also put away 11 kills over the weekend with a .526 hitting percentage.
Dunaway was ushered into a larger role when expected-starter sophomore Lauren Barfield broke her pinkie finger in preseason practices, and the Husky coaching staff knew Dunaway would have to step up.
"I talked with Jim and Keno and I knew that I had to make a lot of progress," Dunaway said. "I still know I have a lot of progress to make. But every week I just choose a couple things to work on, and I want that to show in the game video. So last week I was trying to get my elbow down when I hit, take long steps when I block, and even though I'm not all the way there, I could see that it was better in the game tape and that's what I'm looking for."
Head coach Jim McLaughlin knew the type of work ethic that Dunaway possessed and believes this is just the beginning for her, even if Barfield's return spreads the playing time out between them.
"She's made a lot of progress and she's going to make a lot more," McLaughlin said. "There came a point where we just sat down and said, `There's no other option, we have to get better.' She's done the work. She comes in every day early, she's the last person to leave, she's studying the film. She's a hard worker but she's become very mindful and that's why we're seeing the improvement."
Even with her breakout weekend and All-Tournament accolades, Dunaway was still more pleased with how the Dawgs as a team executed in improving to 6-0. Washington's block dominated the net to the tune of 31.5 blocks compared to just 12 for their opponents in the tournament.
"The most exciting thing was seeing the improvement from our first tournament weekend to that weekend. It was like night and day," Dunaway said. "I was blown away by how much progress we made in four days of practice and it definitely showed. That's what really got me pumped up last weekend."
Dunaway and the Huskies will face their biggest test of the season this weekend in Tampa, Florida, where they will place 9th-ranked Minnesota on Friday and 4th-ranked Florida on Saturday in the Tampa Twice Tournament.