Saturday, December 21, 2013

NCAA | Seattle volleyball fans: “I hope they’ll come out on Saturday”

Washington coach Jim McLaughlin says he’ll attended the NCAA Championship in Key Arena
  • #12 Wisconsin vs. #2 Penn State | December 21 | 6:30 PM (Pacific) | Key Arena, Seattle | ESPN2

Just moments after his team had suffered a season-ending NCAA Semifinal defeat, Washington coach Jim McLaughlin was obligated to sit in front of a row of microphones and a room of reporters. After complementing Penn State, he chose to direct his next comments to the nearly 15,000 people who had filled Key Arena.

“Our fans were so good and have been so good and are always so good,” said McLaughlin. “I just hope that they come out and watch some good volleyball Saturday.  I hope they're here and supporting (Wisconsin vs. Penn State.) So many people have done a great job with this tournament.  And it would be neat.”

Tonight’s final between perennial powerhouse Penn State and free-spirited upstart Wisconsin looks on paper like a mismatch—Penn State swept the Badgers both times the teams met earlier this season. But who would have imagined that Wisconsin could have so thoroughly dismantled top-ranked defending National Champion Texas in Thursday’s first semifinal? There’s an old saying that it’s tough to beat a good team three times in one season, and Wisconsin has had plenty of time to try to figure out the Nittany Lions’ attack.

Most folks who bought Championship tickets purchased them as a package: two Thursday semifinals and Saturday’s finals. There are still some good seats available through Ticketmaster, and there will likely be seats at the Key Arena ticket windows.

Tonight’s contest will be the first NCAA Championship played in Seattle since 1995, when fans packed the Kingdome to watch UCLA defeat Arkansas for the men’s basketball title. Who knows when the next Finals in any sport will be back?

More than anything, it's a chance to see more elite-caliber volleyball in person. If this turns out to be a memorable match, you'll always be able to say, "I was there."

“I'll be there,” McLaughlin said at that press conference. “I don't know who I'm going to cheer for, but I’ll be there.”

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  1. We'll be there tonight, but we certainly won't plan on getting anything from the concession stands. It took over 30 minutes to get a cup of coffee, a bowl of chowder, and fish and chips. I place the order about half way thru Wisconsin's 2nd set, and the 3rd set was underway by the time I got back to our seats. Definitely not up to the standards that we used to see at Hec Ed during 2005 run to the championship. While waiting for my order, the line went from ten to about 300. I imagine a whole lot of people ended up watching the Huskies with "no soup". Pretty sad since you had to give up dinner on the outside if you wanted to watch both matches, and of course there is the mandatory search of belongings to ensure the any food consumed on the premises are purchased. This was really second rate.

    1. Agreed. I went hungry rather than wait for so long.

      In fairness, though, is Key Arena really used much anymore? If used rarely, that means the staff is not familiar with their surroundings and resources, and will take longer than someplace like Hec Ed where they are used to lots of people often.

      OTOH, the PACKED corridors behind the stands were horrible even in places with no lines for food or merchandise. I can see why the NBA wants nothing to do with the place.

      Sad, since we paid for it and it would be nice to see our investment used.

      We'll be there tonight, and rooting for Wisconsin as we did during the first part Thursday. As sad as it was to see the Dawgs tighten up and blow it, it was nice seeing Texas lose, and we'll be rooting for the underdawg again. I hope they have as good a game and game plan as they had on Thursday. It's also enjoyable to yell something other than "GO DAWGS!!" for a change, although that would have been my first choice for tonight.

      Thanks, Jack, for your great reporting on an ongoing basis. I hope you will find things to write about during the off-season for those of us who can't get enough.

  2. We did attend the match as promised (above), and it was quite entertaining. Wisconsin threw away two chances to win the second set when they punched the serve into the net, and eventually Penn State prevailed. After intermission Penn State came out really flat, and Wisconsin won the 3rd set by blunting the Penn St. offense with great digging and blocking. Wisconsin had the chance to win the 4th set, but again they served into the net at set point, and worse yet, this rotated Penn State's Hancock back to serve, and she finished the deal. In my book, Hancock, #12, was the most valuable player for Penn State despite their awesome threesome (#'s 1, 7, and 18.) Hancock scored when the other team spaced out, she set very well, she dug some really tough spikes, she didn't let down in set 3, and she served very well throughout. Wisconsin's #7 was extremely effective hitting the slider. She was capable of seeing the block and quick enough to place the ball where it did the most damage. Nelson and Vansant could learn something by watching her game film. The key to stopping Penn State seemed to be to place the block far enough out to deny them the line. Too often the Huskies were reaching out to block, and Penn State just used them to deflect the ball out of bounds. Wisconsin was able to channel the block into the court, and this made a big difference.

    Glad we went! We'll be looking forward to the Huskies in 2014.

  3. I watched the Finals. I see the UW went against a PSU team that was red hot shooting-wise. Where shooting over .300 is good, PSU shot near .500 against the Huskies. Last night, PSU came back to earth shooting just over .200 but still won. Too bad. UW does look good for next year --- it was good experience.


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