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Everything You Need to Know: UW and the Women's Volleyball Tournament

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Your Lady Huskies are hosting their first match of the NCAA Tournament tonight. Here is what you need to know.

Go Huskies

UPDATED 12/6

The Huskies (30-2) dismantled New Hampshire in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament three sets to zero.  It was a whitewashing all around as the Huskies scored 25-9, 25-6, 25-18 to easily handle the Wildcats.

The stars of the Huskies really shined last night.  Pac 12 POY Krista Vansant had 16 kills while junior Liana Sybeldon had 5 of her own to go along with 7 blocks.  Kaleigh Nelson recorded 12 kills of her own.

Washington now advances to Round 2 where they will be paired against Hawaii.  The Rainbow Warriors upset Duke last night to earn the right to get thumped by the Dawgs.  The game starts at 7:30pm Saturday night from the Alaska Airlines Arena.  Game Info is below:

Game Time / Location:  Saturday, Dec 6  7:30pm 
(Tournament continues through Saturday, Dec 6th)

Game Location: Alaska Airlines Arena, UW

Ticket AvailabilityClick Here

Television:  Pac 12 Networks

Getting Ready for the NCAA Volleyball Tournament:  All You Need to Know

UW's Women's Volleyball team, led by the immutable Krista Vansant, is all set to host the first match of their 2014 NCAA Tournament campaign tonight.  The Huskies are the #1 seed in the Seattle Regionals.  Their first round opponent will be the New Hampshire Wildcats.

I realize that many of you may not be following the Huskies all that closely given the little distraction that is the Husky Football season.  That said, there are some truly special things happening on the court for the Lady Dawgs and Coach Jim Mclaughlin.  To help you get caught up, I've got everything you need to know about Husky Volleyball right here.

The Tournament Starts Tonight?  Whoa!  How Can I Watch the Game?

The Huskies are hosting the Seattle Regional section of the tournament.  That means you can head on down to Hec Ed and watch the game live.  Or you can watch it on TV.  Here are the details:

Game Time / Location Friday, Dec 5, 7:00pm 
(Tournament continues through Saturday, Dec 6th)

Game Location: Alaska Airlines Arena, UW

Ticket Availability: Click Here

Television Pac 12 Networks

How are the Huskies Seeded In the Tournament?

By virtue of a four game win streak to close the season, including a huge 3 sets to 1 victory over the #1 Stanford Cardinal in Seattle last week, the Huskies earned the #3 seed in the tournament overall.  That means that they begin the tournament as hosts and the #1 seed for the Seattle Regionals.

The Huskies open up tonight against New Hampshire (20-11).  The other two teams in the opposite bracket are Duke and Hawaii, who also play each other tonight (5pm ESPN3).  The winners tonight will meet tomorrow (7pm) to earn the right to advance in the tournament.  UW is the host of the Seattle Regional bracket and, as such, the tournament will continue with the next two rounds played on December 12-13th at Alaska Airlines Arena.

The rest of the top four seeds in this year's NCAAs are Stanford (1), Texas (2) and Wisconsin - the "other" UW - (4).  The winners of the regional advance to Oklahoma City, this year's site for the national championship tournament.

You can find a full NCAA bracket right here.

A #3 Seed?  The Dawgs must have had a pretty great season.

That is one way to put it.

The Huskies finished the regular season with a stellar 29-2 for coach Jim McLaughlin.  They are currently ranked #4 in the country and they finished second to Stanford (29-1) in the Pac 12 standings.  It is notable that the Huskies were the only team to defeat the #1 Stanford Cardinal in the aforementioned match that played out last week.  In fact, the Huskies have wins this year against two of the top four seeds - Stanford and #4 Wisconsin.

It was truly great season for the Huskies.  They finished a perfect 15-0 on their home court and their two losses came in a bizarre back-to-back stretch @ Colorado and @ Utah.  The Huskies lost both of those matches 3 sets to 2.

Their fantastic run through the Pac 12 is especially notable given how strong the Pac 12 overall is in 2014.  10 of the 12 PAC teams are headed to the NCAAs with five of them hosting first and second round games by virtue of the fact that they were seeded in the top 16.  Of course, this is par for the course in the Conference of Champions.  The Pac 12 has won 12 of the last 23 NCAA Championships.

The 3-seed is the highest ranking the Huskies have ever achieved in an NCAA tournament.

That's impressive!  Are there any players I should be watching out for this weekend?

If you are a Husky fan who is unfamiliar with the name Krista Vansant, then make sure you take some time to enjoy watching her perform this weekend.  The senior captain for the Lady Dawgs will be making her final appearance(s) at Alaska Airlines Arena over the next two weekends.

Simply put, Krista is the most decorated Husky volleyballer in history.

This week, Krista was recognized with her second Pac 12 Player of the Year award.  She also became only the second UW Volleyball athlete to win the Pac 12 Scholar Athlete of the Year award.  In addition to these annual awards, she raked in her 3rd career AVCA National Volleyball Player of the Week and 10th career (10!) Pac 12 Player of the Week honors.

Previously, Krista was recognized as the 2013 AVCA National Player of the Year, the 2013 Pac 12 Player of the Year and the 2013 Honda Award winner.  Before that, Krista was a second team All Pac 12 team participant and the Pac 12 Freshman of the year.  The 6'2" senior, who hails from Redlands, CA, is a Sociology major and is considered a leading candidate to win her second AVCA National Player of the Year award.

Krista is a big star, but she's not the only Husky doing big things on the court.  Junior Cassie Strickland was recognized as the Pac 12's 2014 Libero of the Year.  In addition, senior Kaleigh Nelson and junior Lyanna Sybledon both earned All Pac 12 team recognition.  Honorable mentions went to Strickland and junior Melanie Wade.  Two Husky freshmen, outside hitters Tia Scambray and Crissy Jones, both earned spots on the Pac 12 All Freshmen team.

This is a loaded UW team with a tremendous depth of talent.  You will not go unentertained.

Fantastic.  Do you think the Huskies have a chance this year?

I'm a Husky fan, so of course I think that they have a chance!  As I noted above, the Huskies have already shown the ability to beat great teams.  They beat Stanford at home.  They beat #10 Oregon twice.  They beat #18 UCLA twice.  They have a win against #6 Wisconsin.  This is a deep team that is battle tested and has shown the ability to not just win but to dominate good teams.

The draw also works out fairly decently for the Huskies.  While it is true that you never can count your chickens before they hatch in Volleyball, the Huskies look to have a manageable opening two rounds.  New Hampshire should be a win and I think is fair to expect Duke to beat Hawaii (though that may be closer than expected).  If Duke meets UW tomorrow, that would be a good match.  However, the Huskies should be heavy favorites given both their depth and the fact that they are perfect at home while the Blue Devils are just 8-5 on the road.

Beyond that, things start to get harder to read.  Utah - who has a win over UW this year - and the always tough Nebraska Cornhuskers are both in the Seattle Regionals.  Kansas State, who opens up against Utah, is also sneaky good.  If the Huskies could get into the Elite Eight, BYU or Florida State - both highly ranked team - could be waiting.

Bottom line here is that the Huskies are definitely a championship contender, but the road will be rocky.  You have to love the fact that the Huskies get two weekends to play on their home court and that have the best player in the country playing on our side of the net.  So, yeah, they have a chance.

Go Dawgs!