Friday, November 1, 2013

Pac-12 | Two good reasons to see Washington volleyball in person this weekend

Making history and getting out of the house
  • next: Utah @ #3 Washington | November 1 | 7PM | no TV
  • Colorado @ #3 Washington | November 3 | 3PM | Courtney Thompson jersey retirement

With only half the Pac-12 season remaining, there are fewer chances to see the nation’s #3-ranked team in person. Tonight and Sunday offer two great reasons to travel to Alaska Airlines Arena to watch first place Washington (17-1, 9-1) in action.

If the Pac-12 Networks are part of your cable lineup, it won’t do you much good tonight: the Utah @ Washington match is not being televised. The Networks have seemed reluctant this season to travel to the Northwest—they broadcast one Huskies’ home match by having its announcers watch a feed of the game from a San Francisco studio. This is also the time of year when men’s basketball starts to absorb television time and resources. In the days ahead, you’ll see such stellar hoops matchups as Augustana @ Arizona, Cal State San Marcos @ UCLA, UM-Baltimore County @ Arizona State and Coppin State @ California. Not all of those games necessarily bump volleyball, but last season similar conflicts left what turned out to be the best Pac-12 volleyball match of the season, Oregon @ Washington, off the tube.

If you live within driving distance of the University of Washington, there’s a solution: attend the match. Utah is having its strongest season in years, going 17-5 and ranking a lofty #17 (out of 328) in this week’s national RPI. The Utes hold opponents to a .171 hitting average—third best in the Pac-12—and are tied with Stanford for the most blocks per set (2.96) in the conference.

Washington has only one loss this season: a 3-1 stinker against Colorado in Boulder. The Huskies’ offense was terrible, hitting just .135 and committing 26 hitting errors. After that bump in an otherwise smooth road, coach Jim McLaughlin tinkered with his lineup, pairing setter Jenni Nogueras with opposite Kaleigh Nelson, and setter Katy Beals with opposite Kylin Muñoz. All four players have benefited, and it should be interesting to see how the Buffs adjust.

Colorado is also having a stellar season, now 14-6 overall and tied for fourth at 6-4 in the Pac-12. They’ve been sensational at home, going 6-1, but have managed just 3 wins on the road, including a conference victory in Corvallis.

Washington alumn and Olympian Courtney Thompson
Although this match will be televised, there is a sensational reason to be there in person. In the long, storied history of University of Washington athletics, the school has never retired the jersey of a woman athlete—until Sunday. All-American setter Courtney Thompson will break that string, just as she has broken so many barriers on her spectacular journey from Kentlake High School (3 state championships) to UW (one NCAA Championship and 3 Final Fours) to professional volleyball (Puerto Rico, Poland, Austria, Switzerland) and the US National Team (2012 London Olympics.)

When Nogueras was being recruited by Washington, “everybody was telling me, ‘Yeah, UW! That’s where Courtney Thompson went!’ I figured it must be a really good school to have such a good setter.”

Since that time, says Nogueras, she’s been impressed by how often Thompson drops by campus to offer support. “She’s so easy to relate to. She talks to us. It’s never, ‘Oh, my god, she’s a star!’ Courtney is one of us.”

The jersey retirement ceremony will take place at the break between the second and third matches. “My mom joked that it’s just like a wedding—everybody I know will be there,” Thompson tells Volleyblog Seattle.

But unlike a wedding, thousands of admirers and perfect strangers will have a chance to be there too. And, really—especially if you are a parent with a daughter or a daughter with a parent—why would you want to miss such an historic occasion?

For more about Courtney, please see: Washington to retire Courtney Thompson's jersey


  1. We're taking my daughter and her friends to the Colorado game for her birthday. Nothing like seeing them play in person. The crowd is always great. Point Huskies!

  2. What's the email address to send comments to the Pac12 about their poor coverage of volleyball?


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