Monday, September 29, 2014

College | Washington volleyball one of only five remaining undefeated teams

Stanford and Oregon also unbeaten; Scambray repeats as Freshman of the Week
  • #19 Southern Cal @ #4 Washington | Wed, Oct 1 | 7:30PM
  • Texas-Pan Am @ Seattle U | Thu, Oct 2 | 6PM
  • #20 UCLA @ #4 Washington | Fri, Oct 3 | 7:00PM
  • New Mexico St @ Seattle U | Sat, Oct 4 | 1PM

Just five weeks into the 2014 season, only five Division I teams remain unbeaten; three from the Pac-12:
Stanford (12-0)
Washington (13-0)
Oregon (12-0)
Florida State (13-0)
Texas (9-0)

#11 Oregon travels to #1 Stanford this Friday night, and then the Ducks host the Huskies October 12. #4 Washington and Stanford face each other only once this season, the night before Thanksgiving in Seattle. #5 Florida State’s next match against a current nationally-ranked team isn’t until November 13 against #25 Duke. #2 Texas has no currently-ranked teams on its schedule until it hosts a nonconference match November 29 against #9 Florida.

Last season, Missouri was 35-0 when it lost at home to Purdue in the NCAA Tournament second round.

Last Friday, Washington came from behind to beat California, 3-2:
  • It was the third consecutive year that the Huskies have won a five-set match in Berkeley
  • It was the twelfth consecutive five-set match the Huskies have won, dating to 2012.
  • The Huskies have now won 43 of their past 46 matches.
  • UW has won 40 of its past 43 home matches, including the past 23 in a row

At 13-0, Washington has built its sixth-longest streak to start a season in the Jim McLaughlin era. Huskies’ streaks rarely end at home; when they do, the match usually goes five sets:

Washington outside hitter Tia Scambray has been honored as the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the second straight week. In wins against Washington State and California, Scambray had a combined 27 kills. She is hitting .321 for the season.

Scambray’s hitting percentage still trails three of her teammates. Kaleigh Nelson ranks 9th in the Pac-12 with a .356 percentage. Krista Vansant ranks 7th (.365) and Lianna Sybeldon is 3rd (.432) in Pac-12 hitting percentage.

All that firepower puts Washington’s team hitting percentage at number two overall in the nation (3.48), trailing only defending champion Penn State (.372). The Huskies rank seventh nationally in blocks per set (3.12). Lianna Sybeldon ranks second in the nation in blocks per set (1.72), trailing Oregon State’s Arica Nassar (1.73) by a whisker.

Congrats to Oregon State, whose 3-2 upset of Utah in Corvallis snapped a 24-match Pac-12 losing streak. The Beavers (11-2) last won on November 16, 2012 in Pullman, at that time stopping an 8-match skid.

#19 Southern Cal limps into Seattle this Wednesday having lost 5 of its previous 6 matches, including all four at Galen Center. The Trojans are still looking for someone to replace the leadership of former All-American libero Natalie Hagglund. Outside hitter Samantha Bricio remains an enigma, struggling at key points in close matches. Powerful sophomore Ebony Nwanebu is still recovering from a back injury, and has not been playing the back row, where she can be a threat when healthy. USC is 1-8 in Alaska Airlines Arena since 2005, winning only in 2011 during that stretch.

#20 UCLA is another enigma. After missing last season’s NCAA Tournament, the Bruins surprised early, but fell to earth last week, losing 3-0 to #14 Arizona. It was a home match for UCLA, but was played at Pepperdine. Both Pauley Pavilion and the adjacent Wooden Center were flooded this summer when a city pipe broke, sending the Bruins to alternate venues for the first half of the season. Despite the Arizona loss, UCLA brings a rejuvenated Karsta Lowe to Seattle this Friday. For the third time in five weeks this season, Lowe was honored as the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. Lowe continues to lead the nation in kills per set (6.49), miles ahead of #2 Vendula Strakova of Hampton (5.69) and Arizona’s Maddi Kingdon (5.48).

The Redhawks (4-10) booked a tough preseason schedule, then lost its opening WAC match this weekend at Utah Valley. Seattle U has several talented players, especially Iris Ivanis, Matea Mamic and Martina Samadan. The Redhawks will try to turn it around this week in its conference home openers against Texas Pan-Am and New Mexico State.

Western Washington's Taylor Dillard (12) and Seattle Pacific's Ellie Britt (2) joust for the ball during
Western's 3-1 victory at Royal Brougham Pavilion in Seattle
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

It’s a stretch to call rivalries in Division II GNAC “bitter,” but Seattle Pacific and Western Washington come close. Last week, both teams were 9-3 as Western came into Royal Brougham Pavilion. The two teams played tight, and sets two and four went beyond 25. Despite 21 kills from SPU’s extraordinary Madi Cavell, Western prevailed, 3-1. The Vikings were keyed by 29 digs—many sensational—from libero Samantha Hutchinson. The Falcons’ 15 service errors didn’t help their cause.

USA and Russia entered yesterday’s FIVB World Championships pool play match in Italy with identical 4-0 records. Russia is the two-time defending champion; USA is ranked #2 in the world, behind Brazil. USA won the marathon first set 34-32, and prevailed 25-19 in the second. The third set was another monster, won by Russia 31-29. The fourth set threatened to be the same, with USA hanging on to a 25-24 lead. To the service line stepped Courtney Thompson. Her float serve moved like a knuckleball, and the epic match was over: service ace.

Team USA setters Courtney Thompson (3) and Alicia Glass (1) after USA's 3-1 win over Russia
in Pool C play of the 2014 FIVB World Championships in Verona, Italy
-photo courtesy FIVB

USA and Russia both move to the second round of pool play. USA faces Turkey (Oct. 1), Bulgaria (Oct. 2) Serbia (Oct. 4) and, you guessed it, Brazil (Oct. 5).


  1. Always slow start, did not come back last time playing with Pen State, and if this is not fixed soon we may not come back again playing with Pen State, Texas, or Wisconscin in this year's final.

  2. Um Penn State you mean. I think our back row defense is the most vulnerable and in need of help with Cassie taking over a new role. We need to reduce the service errors which kill us at times. I love the way our new Freshmen are playing.. the future continues to be bright and I'm not worried about losing Krista next year with Tia just killing it in every aspect of the game!

  3. I love our true and RS freshmen, particularly Tia and Bailey. This should be the breakthrough year for Bailey. If Jim allows and encourages her to attack more as a setter, she will be eventually the best attacking setter in the country, I believe we need one more this kind of option/weapon to become the best team in the country. BTW, I meant Penn State, thanks for correcting me.

  4. I love our RS and true freshmen, particularly Bailey and Tia. This should be the breakthrough year for Bailey. If Jim allows and encourages her to attack more as a setter, she eventually will become the best attacking setter, we need one more this kind of option/weapon to be the best team in the country. BTW, I meant Penn State, thanks for correcting me.


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