Monday, September 22, 2014

College | After Showdown in Seattle, Washington volleyball climbs in polls

Huskies now ranked in the top 4; Vansant and Scambray named Pac-12 Players of the Week
  • Washington State @ #4 Washington | Wed, Sept 24 | 7:30PM
  • #4 Washington @ California | Fri, Sept 26 | 8PM

Washington's Lianna Sybeldon (center) watches Wisconsin setter Lauren Carlini (1) reach for Sybeldon's attack
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

An excerpt from our report and photo essay on today’s Volleyball Magazine website:
SEATTLE—The great ones don’t hear the crowd. Not really.

Sure, they’ll tell you how much home cheers help, or how opposing jeers motivate.

But during a match, the great ones see or hear little beyond the lines. Instead, they see the ball, then react without thinking. Instinct born of countless repetition in stuffy practice gyms, no onlookers required.

Thursday and Friday in Seattle, however, there were onlookers aplenty. And in the end, thousands streamed out of University of Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena knowing they’d witnessed what will surely be remembered as one of the best matches of the season.
The rest of the report is here. Feel free to share it on your social media sites.

Washington’s Krista Vansant earned Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors, and teammate Tia Scambray was named conference Freshman of the Week. Vansant—reigning National Player of the Year—had a combined 29 kills and 7 blocks against Wisconsin and Maryland. Scambray had a combined 19 kills and 11 blocks.

The conference Defensive Player of the Week award went to Oregon State’s Arica Nassar, who tallied 28 blocks over 12 sets. Both of Washington’s middles—Lianna Sybeldon (13 blocks in 8 sets) and Melanie Wade (12 blocks in 8 sets) were in the conversation for the award. Sybeldon had 11 blocks against Wisconsin.

As you might have expected, Washington and Wisconsin traded spots in this week’s AVCA Coaches’ poll. Washington (11-0) is now ranked #4, the Badgers (9-1) drop to #5. Stanford (10-0) remains on top, followed by Texas (8-0) and Penn State (12-1). Despite losing to Wisconsin, Southern Cal (7-3) climbed one spot to #9, still ahead of undefeated #13 Oregon (9-0). #18 Arizona (11-1), #19 Arizona State (10-2) and #20 UCLA (9-2) keep seven Pac-12 teams in the top 20.

THE STREAK (cont.)
The Huskies’ dramatic come-from-behind win against Wisconsin marks the eleventh straight time Washington has won a five-set match. Here’s the rundown:

The most meaningful win the streak? Last December’s nailbiter in Los Angeles, sending Washington to the Final Four at Key Arena. But the most dramatic is undoubtedly the home comeback against eventual 2012 national runner-up Oregon, as the Huskies overcame an 11-14 fifth set deficit and fought off an incredible 13 match points (one in the fourth set, 12 in fifth) for the Arena-shaking win. [Re-live that historic match here]. The current Huskies, however, might want to pay attention to those two five-setters the past two seasons in Berkeley. Washington trailed both matches 2 sets to 1, and needed to go to 17 points to win each time. The Huskies play in Berkeley this Friday.

For the first time in decades, Washington will not play in Palo Alto this season. This is the third season of the Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule, which deprives each team of home-and-home rivalries against two conference opponents each season. This year, Cal will not visit Alaska Airlines Arena, and the Huskies will see Stanford just once, at home on November 26. Stanford is usually the biggest attendance draw of the season, but the match is at 5PM (a killer for traffic) on the night before Thanksgiving, when many students will be heading home. On the other hand, what if both Stanford and Washington are undefeated going into that match, or if the conference title is on the line? Turkey dinner tailgating anyone?

Division II Seattle Pacific (9-2) is still on a roll, starting the GNAC portion of their schedule 3-0. Senior Madi Cavell had a career high 29 kills in a 3-2 win over Western Oregon, then added 14 more in a 3-0 sweep of Fairbanks in Alaska. Tonight at 8PM, the Falcons play their fourth match in seven nights when they stay in Alaska to face Anchorage. The Seawolves, also 9-2, already have a 3-2 over powerhouse Western Washington.

Washington Hall of Famer Courtney Thompson and her USA Volleyball teammates are in Verona, Italy, where the first round of the 2014 FIVB World Championships begin this week. The schedule (all times Pacific):
  • September 23, 11AM: USA vs. Mexico
  • September 24, 1:30AM: USA vs. Kazakhstan
  • September 25, 11AM: USA vs. Netherlands
  • September 27, 11AM: USA vs. Thailand
  • September 28, 11AM: USA vs. Russia

USA Volleyball tells us that all matches will be live streamed at Details and links are here.

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