Is Seattle the best of the 16 subregionals? Consider coaches, rankings, rivalries and geography
- #21 Duke vs. #23 Hawai’i | Fri, Dec 5 | 5PM | Alaska Airlines Arena
- New Hampshire @ #3 Washington | Fri, Dec 5 | 7PM | Alaska Airlines Arena
- NCAA Second Round | Sat, Dec 6 | 7PM | Alaska Airlines Arena
|In 2012, both Washington and Hawai'i were in the NCAA Seattle subregional|
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
For the seventh time in the 12 seasons, Washington is hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA D1 Volleyball Tournament. Win or lose, Seattle is also the site of the next two rounds, as UW won its Regional hosting bid for the fourth time in the Jim McLaughlin era.
The eyes of the volleyball world will be on Alaska Airlines Arena this Friday and Saturday, for several reasons. Many will wonder: How many of the 8,646 fans who saw Washington beat Stanford just one week ago—the largest crowd in the NCAA this season—will turn out for the four tournament matches this week and next?
Initial numbers are promising, though not spectacular. In the first 48 hours after the brackets were announced, the UW Ticket office sold 1,352 tickets for this weekend, and 1,994 for the Sweet 16/Elite 8 next weekend.
The largest crowd ever for a 1st/2nd round tournament match at Alaska Airlines Arena was in 2012, when 3,709 saw Washington win a five-set thriller over Hawai’i. The record for a 3rd/4th round match in the Arena is 6,846, a win over Ohio State in 2006.
The NCAA is offering a limited-time 2-for-1 deal for NEXT weekend’s (Dec 12-13) Rounds 3 and 4 Regional matches. Visit http://www.ncaa.com/cybermonday, click the Women’s Volleyball Seattle Regional link near the bottom of the page, and enter the word MERRY in the “Access an Offer” box that appears after the link is clicked. The offer applies to purchases of at least two tickets in the General Admission sections only (which is most of the Arena). Other fees and taxes may be added.
Of the 16 subregionals this weekend, Seattle’s could be the most intriguing. Let’s count the ways:
No other subregional features coaches with the combined resume as impressive as the four who will be in Seattle. Between them, they have a combined 2,997 career wins … a number that will hit an even 3,000 Saturday night. Their combined 128 years of head coaching experience is extraordinary—and a great reason for volleyball fans, players and coaches to watch the masters at work. Hawai’i head coach Dave Shoji is the all-time leader in career wins, and Washington’s Jim McLaughlin is the only head coach to win an NCAA title with a men’s team (USC) and a women’s team (Washington). New Hampshire’s Jill Hirschinger is one of only 12 active coaches with 700 or more victories.
Each week, several dozen head coaches participate in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll. Seattle is the only subregional (out of 16) where three of the four teams are currently among the poll’s Top 25: #3 Washington, #21 Duke and #23 Hawai’i. On paper, Friday’s Duke vs. Hawai’i match is the most intriguing first-round matchup anywhere in the tournament.
If Hawai’i and Washington both advance to the second round, it will be the third time in the past five postseasons the two have faced off in Seattle. Since he arrived in Seattle in 2001, McLaughlin’s Washington teams are 131-5 against nonconference opponents during the regular season. 2 of those 5 losses (and 2 of those 131 wins) have come against Hawai’i. In postseason, McLaughlin’s teams are 33-11, including a 2-1 record against the Rainbow Wahine.
A ROAD TRIP AT HOME
No other subregional features the chance to see teams from such far-flung corners of our nation in one night. To get to Seattle, Duke will fly 2,343 miles, New Hampshire will fly 2,470 miles and Hawai’I, 2,678 miles. Weirdly, Durham is home to two teams: Duke is in Durham, North Carolina, and UNH is in Durham, New Hampshire. The distance between Honolulu and Durham, New Hampshire is 5,072 miles. That's further than the distance between Seattle and Paris or Seattle to Tokyo.
- The NCAA has arranged team charter flights from Durham to Seattle—BOTH Durhams on the same plane. The flight originates in New Hampshire, then picks up the Duke contingent before heading west.
- Duke senior Kelsey Williams was named Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Setter of the Year, one of three Blue Devils named to the ACC First Team. Four Hawai’i players were named to the Big West All-Conference team, including Olivia Magill, who played at Seattle Prep. New Hampshire’s Taylor Dunklau is the America East Conference Player of the Year and Setter of the Year, joining teammate Tori Forrest on the All-Conference First Team.
- Another local product, Colorado State senior Deedra Foss, was named Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. Foss attended Lakes High School. The Rams are seeded ninth in the NCAA Tournament, and are in the Minneapolis bracket with Texas, Oregon and North Carolina.