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Future is Bright for Husky Volleyball despite Upcoming Turnover

Nearly half of the UW volleyball roster, and well over half of the regular contributors, are seniors. But a superstar freshman and a top-tier recruiting class on the way will make for a seamless transition.

In a match where the present wasn’t quite enough to topple a top-10 team at the top of their game, a glimpse of what’s coming for Husky volleyball offered a tantalizing sight of what’s coming in the future. True freshman middle blocker Lauren Sanders, an Under Armour HS All-American and top-20 recruit nationally, completely took over the game for a span during the Huskies’ impressive 3rd set. Sanders killed all 4 of her attacks in the set and picked up 4 blocks, including two solo blocks, a relative rarity in indoor volleyball.

From last year to this year, losing only seldom-used grad transfer middle blocker Kameron McLain meant that this year’s squad is very well set up to go on a run. Although this loss to Creighton was disappointing, there’s obviously still a long time to go in the season, and I still very much believe this team will be right there in the national championship hunt, as does the AVCA, as Washington dropped just 5 spots to #8.

However, next year has multiple question marks. The Huskies will still clearly be loaded with talent, but the loss of so many key players is going to have a big impact on the team. OH Tia Scambray, S Bailey Tanner, OH Courtney Schwan, and RS Crissy Jones will all graduate, all of them having started at least 3 years for UW and won a variety of conference, regional, and national awards. Carly DeHoog, who had a fantastic opening weekend after battling through the past couple of season with injuries, will be done as well. Steady backup setter Jade Finau? She’ll be gone, too. Even impact transfer Marion Hazelwood, a 3-time Honorable Mention All-American at Oklahoma, will exhaust her eligibility as well.

Given the number of scholarships opening and the national pedigree of the Husky volleyball program, clearly there should be some strong players on the way. Next year’s freshman class for the Huskies is loaded, ranked #2 in the country by PrepVolleyball. There are a few more as well, but two of the top recruits in the country are joining the Huskies in 2018:

  • Ella May Powell, a 6’0” setter from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Powell has played the past few seasons with the US Junior National Team and is the two-time Arkansas Player of the Year (interestingly, the one she missed out on went to Fayetteville HS teammate Haley Warner, who is committed to Florida).
  • Shannon Crenshaw, a 6’3” outside hitter from Orlando, Florida. In a state loaded with volleyball talent (probably a close third behind Texas, with California runaway #1), this is a rare pickup for a Pac-12 school. Crenshaw won the Florida player of the year award as a sophomore.

The beginning of a new season is an unusual time to be thinking about the future, but the senior-laden roster is one that would normally indicate a rebuilding season on the way the following year. Head coach Keegan Cook and his staff will have none of that. There may be a few growing pains early in fall 2018, but this is an episode of reloading, not rebuilding.

What’s next?

Washington will stay in Seattle for another weekend, this time co-hosting a tournament along with Seattle University. The tournament schedule is as follows:

Friday, September 1st:

(RV) Cal Poly (3-0) at Seattle (1-2) – 6 PM (SU hosted)

Santa Clara (2-1) at #8 Washington (2-1) – 7 PM (UW hosted)

Saturday, September 2nd:

(RV) Cal Poly vs. Santa Clara – 10 AM (UW hosted)

Seattle at #8 Washington – noon (UW hosted)

Santa Clara at Seattle – 6 PM (SU hosted)

(RV) Cal Poly at #8 Washington – 7 PM (UW hosted)