Dawgs Start Postseason Run At Home Friday
Nov. 26, 2012
UPDATE: The first round match against Central Arkansas will be televised live by UWTV, channel 27 in the Seattle area.
SEATTLE - Seattle welcomes back the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championships this Friday and Saturday, as the Huskies play host to a four team section, one of 16 sites around the country this week. Washington, making its 11th consecutive NCAA appearance, opens against Central Arkansas on Friday, Nov. 30, with the winner advancing to face the winner of Hawaii and Santa Clara, on Saturday, Dec. 30. Friday’s first match is at 5 p.m. with the second match beginning at 7 p.m., and Saturday’s lone match will be a 7 p.m. start.
The Huskies are seeded 13th in the 64-team field after finishing the regular season at 23-6 overall and 14-6 in Pac-12 play, tied for fourth. The Pac-12 sent seven teams into the NCAA tourney, tied with the Big Ten for most entries, and the conference’s five seeded teams leads all conferences. Over the last 10 years, Washington has won at least one match in the tournament every year, going 27-9 over the stretch. In 2005, UW became the first team to sweep every match in the 64-team tournament era, winning its first NCAA title. Washington also reached the Final Four in 2004 and 2006, and the Regional Final (Elite Eight) in 2003, 2008, and 2010. Last season the Huskies won their opener before falling in five sets at Minnesota in the second round.
The first round opponent for the Huskies are the Sugar Bears of Central Arkansas, the 2012 Southland Conference champions. UCA went 30-4 during the season and will be making its NCAA tourney debut. Senior Jessica Hays is the career kills leader for Central Arkansas, and Marissa Collins was named the conference’s Setter of the Year.
Hawaii rolled through its first year in the Big West Conference with a perfect 18-0 record and is 26-2 overall, its only losses coming to California and UCLA out of the Pac-12. The Rainbow Wahine had a big early season win over Pac-12 Champion Stanford, and they were 5-0 in five set matches in conference. Hawaii was ranked eighth in the most recent coaches poll, and finished 17th in the RPI, one spot behind UW. Junior outside hitter Emily Hartong was an AVCA Second Team All-American last year and is one of the NCAA leaders in kills per set at 4.57.
The Broncos were one of six West Coast Conference teams to make the postseason, carrying a 20-11 overall record and a 9-7 mark in conference. Santa Clara had a knack for the close ones, as they played 12 five setters, going 9-3. They played three Pac-12 teams, winning in five over Utah, losing in four sets vs. Oregon State, and losing in a sweep at Stanford. Junior middle Megan Anders was named All-WCC First Team, as she leads the team in kills per set at 3.02 and has hit .362 this season.
Both Hawaii and Santa Clara have made recent postseason trips to Seattle. Hawaii was here in 2010 when seeded teams were not required to host, and UW upset the 15th-seeded Wahine in the second round. Washington also had a second round win over the Broncos back in 2008, which was Santa Clara’s most recent tourney appearance. Hawaii had a 3-0 win over UW in the 2002 NCAA second round, Coach McLaughlin’s first tourney run at Washington.
The team that emerges from Seattle will continue on to the Omaha Region next week for round of 16 and quarterfinal matches on Dec. 7-8. The Final Four will be in Louisville, Ky. this year on Dec. 13 and 15.