POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 3, 2010
SEATTLE » Geography is not on its side. Just ask the NCAA Women's Volleyball Committee. But history is clearly with seventh-ranked Hawaii tonight when it takes on 11th-ranked Washington in Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
This will be the fifth time in the past seven years the road-tested Rainbow Wahine have faced the host team in an NCAA second-round match. They won the first four.
They are the seeded team in this subregional, salvaging No. 15 despite last week's WAC tournament disappointment.
The Huskies (22-8), who won the 2005 national championship, are unseeded for the first time in eight years. A 4-7 slide midseason left them as the Pac-10's fifth-place team, the first time since 2003 they have not finished first or second.
UW swept 23rd-ranked Michigan, 25-22, 25-17, 25-16, last night. The Wolverines (23-8) were without their greatest offensive threat, losing Alex Hunt to a sprained ankle last week, but ironically it was serving that did them in early. They missed seven in the opening set and five more in the second.
"Serving is a big part of our game and we haven't had a match like that all year," said coach Mark Rosen. "That's the one thing that's not affected by the personnel change too. ... Serving errors became viral tonight."
Washington got huge matches from its seniors. Jenna Hagglund set the offense to .321 hitting -- and just seven hitting errors -- while Becky Perry (10) and Kindra Carlson (9) combined for more than half the kills.
No surprise there.
"They've got three great players and three good players," UH coach Dave Shoji said. "So we'll have to make sure we exploit their good players because their great players are really, really good."
Last time the teams played, in 2008, the Wahine rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win in five. Amber Kaufman set a school record with 11 aces.
The Huskies look much the same with their three seniors, a large lineup and well-tested by their Pac-10 smackdowns.
"Washington has the edge for sure," said Portland State coach Michael Seemann, whose team was swept by both UW and UH this season. "I feel like Hawaii is just a little error-prone and Washington does not make that many mistakes. They are very efficient.
"Hawaii's size will hurt them on both pins and their middles' lateral speed will hurt them again. Washington has a bit faster offense in both directions. I'm not sure Hawaii will be able to respond to that."
Rosen, whose season ended against the Wahine last year in a regional final, is not so sure.
"Hawaii has one of those teams that it is hard to figure out if you match up well," he said. "They play good defense and they're cagey. Last year they matched up with Illinois way more than I thought they would. I wouldn't undersell Hawaii ever. It's a team that deceptively takes it to you."
The Wahine are now 13-0 in the first round since the tournament went to 64 teams in 1998. It has advanced to 11 regionals in that span, losing only to Middle Tennessee in a second-round match in 2007.