Thursday, May 21, 2015

College | Washington volleyball will not travel to Boulder in 2015

Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule continues to skew conference race

Colorado's Kelsey English,(1) and Taylor Simpson (16) hand Washington the first of two consecutive defeats in Boulder. (James Bradbury/CU Independent)

Last November 13, Washington was 25-0, ranked #2 in the nation. The Huskies headed to Boulder, only to lose to Colorado, 3-2 (27-25, 26-24, 17-25, 23-25, 15-11).

The previous season, Washington was 10-0 and ranked #1 when it went to Boulder. The Buffaloes also won, that year by a score of 3-1 (25-17, 26-24, 15-25, 25-19).

The Huskies are a combined 62-6 since 2013; one-third of those defeats were in Colorado.

This fall, there will be no chance for revenge. The Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule means that the Huskies will not play in Colorado in 2015, nor will Seattle fans see Utah this season.

Since 2012, the Pac-12 has elected to play just 20 conference matches, which means each team plays home and away against every other school except for two. For Washington and Washington State, the light schedule in 2012 was against the Arizona schools. It was the Oregon schools in 2013, the Bay Area schools last season and the Los Angeles schools next season.

2013 was the first season in the history of Washington volleyball that Huskies fans did not get to root in person against the Ducks. That Oregon team had just reached the National Championship match the previous season, the same year (2012) of perhaps the greatest home match in Washington history. After Krista Vansant left that match with a fourth-set ankle injury, the sixth-ranked Huskies fought off 13 match points to upset the fourth-ranked Ducks 3-2 (26-24, 16-25, 21-25, 32-30, 25-23).

Last season, Stanford won the conference with a 19-1 record, one game ahead of 18-2 Washington. Stanford’s only loss was at Washington, before the second-largest crowd (8,646) in Pac-12 history (9,141 saw Stanford @ Arizona on October 11, 2002 in McKale Center). The Huskies could have shared the 2014 Pac-12 title with a win in Palo Alto, except that there was no match in Palo Alto last season … Washington @ Stanford was one of the 2014 skipped matches.

In 2014, Stanford fans were deprived of the chance to see reigning National Player of the Year Vansant play during her senior season. In 2015, those same fans won’t see longtime rival UCLA, and USC’s fans won’t see Stanford’s lineup of senior All-Americans.

The Pac-12 plays four weeks of nonconference matches to start each season. Most Pac-12 coaches are loathe to follow the lead of several other conferences by cutting one of those weeks for the sake of the conference standings’ integrity. The logic? A Pac-12 title pales in importance compared to an NCAA berth. That means coaches want as many weeks as possible to schedule probable nonconference wins to boost season-ending RPI.

As fans have noticed, the fourth week rarely features marquee games. Power conference schools have either started their league season or decline to fly west. At a time when the conference should be building excitement, the week before conference play is usually deadly dull. And the final week of conference play can be pretty infuriating if the schools the home team have skipped could have made a difference in the final standings.


  • While all other power conferences (Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big-12) have already released their entire 2015 schedules, the Pac-12 continues its tradition of waiting until summer. Tweaks to the Pac-12 Network lineup is usually cited as the culprit, even though the delay only serves to dampen early enthusiasm for season ticket sales. C'mon, Pac-12: if everyone else can do it, so can you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

College | Nwanebu leaving USC; Matt West honored

Seattle’s West earns First-Team All-American award; Ebony Nwanebu says “I miss my home”

Pepperdine's Matt West and Southern California's Ebony Nwanebu
Ebony Nwanebu, one of the Pac-12’s best players and the 2013 AVCA National Freshman of the Year, announced that she is leaving USC. She has not yet indicated where—or even if—she will continue playing college volleyball.

The supremely gifted 6-4 outside hitter was a huge force two seasons ago, earning First-Team All-American honors as a freshman. She averaged 3.47 kills per set and totaled 413 kills, helping the Trojans to a 29-6 record. Her freshman season ended as she totaled 30 kills in a 3-2 Elite 8 loss to Washington.

Nwanebu was invited to compete with the US National Team last summer, but suffered a serious back injury during a tournament in Montreux. Last fall, she struggled to heal as her performance—and that of USC—slid, producing a 16-16 record, including 8-12 in the Pac-12. The Trojans lost 3-1 to North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

In a blog posted Monday, Nwanebu offers a detailed explanation for her decision to leave Southern Cal. In part, she writes:
“The fact is, I miss my home, I miss my family. I miss my little brother who is having to grow up without me around. I miss my mom who is having to support me and my brother, and having to pay for his monthly hospital bills all by herself. I tried to make this work, I fought my own mind for this to work. I sought out help to make this work. But it simply didn’t. And for that I am sorry.”

The entire blog post is worth a read; it includes important glimpses to the pain and pressure that some athletes endure. Another excerpt:
“It was hard for me really, I struggled so much with my identity. I’ve spent so much of my life wanting what people have wanted me to want, and doing what other people have been telling me what I should want to do… but what do I really want? What do I really want to do? Who am I? Well, I’m a teenager, from a small country town in Texas, currently I am thousands of miles from my biggest supporters and my sickly little brother. I like the color pink, I skip everywhere I go (literally), I’m still stuck my Disney phase and occasionally will burst out into song. And I’ve learned that moving far, far away, forces someone to grow up pretty quickly.”

Volleyblog Seattle always considered Nwanebu a class act. We wish her well.


Matt West, who grew up in Seattle, has earned AVCA All-American honors for the third consecutive season. The Pepperdine senior was named to the 2015 First Team, an award he also won in 2013. Last season, he was named to the AVCA Second Team.

West’s Pepperdine team had another fine season, but fell just short of qualifying for this week’s NCAA Final Six. Tonight in Palo Alto, Loyola Chicago plays Pfeiffer, with the winner advancing to Thursday’s semifinal against UC Irvine. Hawai’i faces Penn State for the right to play Lewis. The championships are Saturday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

National Team | Courtney Thompson & Tama Miyashiro bringing USA Teammates to Seattle

Unique clinics launch “Give it Back” effort by American Olympians
  • Give it Back Foundation clinics | August 1-2, 2015 | Kentlake HS
    Registration opens April 15, 2015 |
  • The Volleyball Camps at the University of Washington | July 6-22, 2015 |
  • James Finley Volleyball Camps @ Seattle U | July 17-19, 2015 | 
    Nike Volleyball Camp @ Seattle U | July 20-August 2, 2015 |
  • SPU Falcon Volleyball Camps | July 19-28, 2015 |
  • Western Washington U Volleyball Camps | July 5-18, 2015 |

Each summer, dozens of volleyball camps offer sessions for girls and boys around Western Washington. This year, the Seattle area hosts the rollout of a unique clinic offered by former University of Washington All-Americans Courtney Thompson and Tama Miyashiro and several of their Olympic teammates.

Olympians Tama Miyashiro and Courtney Thompson will launch the inaugural  Give it Back Foundation clinic August 1-2
-photo courtesy Linda Thompson

Give it Back: USA Women’s National Team Members Launch Clinics to Fund Charities
On a cold European afternoon not long ago, Courtney Thompson (in Zurich) and Tamari Miyashiro (in Stuttgart) met up via Skype. The two Olympic teammates were discussing a topic they had often mulled over: How can professional volleyball players give back to their communities?

This August, Thompson, Miyashiro, and at least six of their U.S. women's national team teammates will conduct a groundbreaking two-day clinic in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Thompson’s home town. All proceeds will benefit the Children’s Therapy Center, Thompson’s favorite charity.

“I am so pumped about this,” said Thompson, by telephone from Switzerland.

University of Washington: New Coach Attracts Plenty of Campers
Summer volleyball camps at the University of Washington usually sell out quickly. Now that Keegan Cook is UW’s new head coach, that pattern continues.

All sessions for those girls entering grades 9-12 are already fully booked. There are, however, still spots available for those girls entering grades 4-8, and for the boys’ camp for grades 4-12.

Other camps
  • Most colleges across the nation offer summer volleyball camps. You can navigate starting with our college links page.

  • See the links above for camps at Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University and Western Washington University.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sand | Washington volleyball “excited” to start sand season in Sacramento

A short season kicks off this weekend against Keegan Cook’s alma mater, St. Mary’s
  • Sat, Mar 21 | 11:00AM | vs. St. Mary’s @ Sacramento State
  • Sat, Mar 21 | 2:00PM | vs. Pacific @ Sacramento State
  • Sun, Mar 22 | 11AM | @ Sacramento State
  • Mon, Mar 23 | 4:00PM | @ Pacific (Stockton)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sources: Jim McLaughlin Leaving Washington Volleyball for Notre Dame

[this story reported by Jack Hamann and Terry Wood]

01.10.15 | 11:40AM | CLARIFICATION added to end of report regarding Coach Debbie Brown's Notre Dame departure.

Jim McLaughlin, a coach who built the University of Washington volleyball program into a national power, has told his players he is leaving to become head coach at Notre Dame.

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