Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Huskies drop the curtain on Vols

Washington celebrates during Thursday's win over Tennessee. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
From news services

SAN ANTONIO – Don’t let the Alamodome’s big curtain fool you.

Washington needed no funny business to sweep Tennessee 30-25, 30-19, 30-21 Thursday night in the NCAA volleyball semifinals.

“No magic,” said Huskies coach Jim McLaughlin. “We worked hard.”

But now the third-seeded team will have to work a little harder Saturday when it faces top-seeded Nebraska, which swept Santa Clara in the second semifinal.

“We’re on a mission,” said Huskies sophomore outside hitter Christal Morrison.

Morrison did her part with a team-high 18 kills. Senior outside hitter Brie Hagerty added 16. Junior setter Courtney Thompson had 54 assists.

“We were definitely in system tonight,” Morrison said, “and Courtney ran a good offense.”

Morrison had double-figure kills for the 25th time this season. With 12 kills, senior outside hitter Sonja Tomasevic increased her school record for career kills to 1,783.

Senior middle blocker Kristen Andre was the star for No. 17 Tennessee (25-9). She had 21 kills for a .390 percentage.

“She got hot and we stayed steady,” McLaughlin said of Andre. “It didn’t affect us.”

Lady Vols coach Rob Patrick thought his players did all they could against a more talented team.

“I thought the players carried (the game plan) out pretty well,” Patrick said. “But Washington put a little pressure on us with their serve. We didn’t handle it well.”

The Huskies (31-1) are still riding on carryover motivation from last year’s national semifinal loss to Stanford.

“Last year, it was tough going home after the first night,” Morrison said. “We learned a lot from it, and we all said we were going to come back and make it to that second night.”

Giant drapes made the dome feel a little cozier for the 7,931 in attendance (9,818 tickets sold), and Morrison’s mother, Dianne, said the Washington fan club – about 200 strong – enjoyed the lively atmosphere.

“It’s awesome to be in a big group like this, because last week when we played in College Station, we had 400 people (total),” Dianne said. “I think our girls thrive on that – all of them.”

Half of the fans wore red, supporting the top-ranked Huskers (33-1), but Dianne Morrison said that wouldn’t be an obstacle Saturday.

“I don’t think they care whether it’s a home crowd or an away crowd,” she said. “I think they just thrive off it.”

NU assistant coach Lee Maes scouted the Huskies before Nebraska’s 30-24, 30-19, 30-21 victory over the Broncos.

“They’re a great team,” he said of UW. “They have threats at the pins. It’s still going to come down – in any big match – to who stays in system better, meaning who does a great job serving and passing.”

The Huskers were led by senior middle blocker Melissa Elmer, who had 13 kills and seven blocks. Nebraska hit .449 with only seven errors.

“Both teams have great offenses. Both teams have great defenses,” Maes said. “It’s going to be a war.”