Huskies To Host NCAA 1st & 2nd Rounds This Week
Nov. 25, 2012
SEATTLE - For the 11th consecutive season, the Washington volleyball team is postseason bound, and the Huskies got their wish today by earning one of the top-16 seeds in the 64-team tournament, which means UW will be playing host to the first and second rounds at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Washington, which finished the regular season with a 23-6 record, is the No. 13 overall seed, although UW was ranked No. 5 in the most recent AVCA Top-25; the Huskies were 16th in the final RPI rankings. The Huskies will host Central Arkansas this Friday, Nov. 30, at approximately 7:00 p.m., following the conclusion of the match between the two other teams heading to Seattle, Santa Clara and Hawaii. The winners of the first round matches will then play on Saturday night at 7 p.m. for a spot in the regional semifinals.
Staying at home for the first two rounds was a season-long goal for Head Coach Jim McLaughlin, who led UW to its first NCAA title in 2005. "(Playing at home) allows us an opportunity to get hot, and the most important thing is that extra day of practice. We get more work done being here. Those first two rounds are critical; if you get hot you can make a run."
The team that comes out ahead on Saturday night in Seattle will advance on to the Omaha Regional, hosted by No. 4 overall seed Nebraska, with round of 16 matches on Dec. 7, and the quarterfinal match on Dec. 8. Louisville, Ky. hosts this year's Final Four on Dec. 13 and 15.
Thirty-one conferences were awarded automatic qualification, and the remaining 33 slots were filled with at-large selections to complete the bracket. Washington was one of seven Pac-12 teams to make the field, tied with the Big Ten for most among all conferences. Penn State earned the No. 1 overall seed, and other seeded Pac-12 teams include No. 2 Stanford, No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 USC, and No. 7 UCLA. That makes five seeded teams for the Pac-12, more than the three of the Big Ten and Big-12. Also making the cut out of the Pac-12 were Arizona State and California. UCLA is the defending NCAA Champions.
Central Arkansas, Washington's first round opponent out of the Southland Conference, is one of two teams making its first ever NCAA Championships appearance. Hawaii is a perennial volleyball powerhouse, which was ranked No. 8 in the final regular season AVCA poll, and finished just one spot behind UW in the final RPI at No. 17. The Rainbow Wahine are 26-2 and won the Big West Conference with a perfect 18-0 league mark this year. Santa Clara (20-11) was one of six teams to make the field from the West Coast Conference and finished 45th in the final RPI.
The last time UW hosted NCAA play was in 2010, when Hawaii was also sent to Seattle. The Huskies beat Hawaii in the second round that year, then defeated Nebraska before falling to California in the regional final. Last season, Washington defeated Western Michigan in the NCAA first round before falling in five sets at Minnesota in the second round.
"The body of work has moved in a good direction and we're getting better," McLaughlin said on how UW enters the postseason. "We just have to stay in the process when there will be more distractions, and just stay focused on what we need to do right now. At the beginning of the year there were so many questions, and I think we've narrowed that down significantly. I think the team has performed, so I think we can get hot in this tournament."
Matches will be streamed live on GoHuskies.com.
2012 NCAA Div. I Women's Volleyball Championships
First & Second Rounds
November 30 at Seattle, Washington
December 1 at Seattle, Washington