Into the Sunset

Dec. 15, 2006

By Ray Dise

Special to from CVU



Ray owns and operates and regularly contributes volleyball content to E-mail here!

The face of Washington volleyball has played her final college match, but she departs leaving quite a mark.


Senior Courtney Thompson, who graces the cover of the University of Washington's media guide and who was the first Husky to win the Honda Award as the nation's top collegiate volleyball player in 2005, had her lion of a career go out like a lamb as she dished out a season low 21 assists in the Huskies' final match.


"We recruited her and she changed this program," Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin said. "And set a standard that is pretty unbelievable."


Thompson finishes the season with 1,711 assists for the Pac-10 runners-up and ends her Washington career with 6,552 assists. Thompson became only the second player in Pac-10 history to accumulate 6,000 career assists. UCLA's Ericka Selsor dished out 6,234 assists from 1998-2001.


"From my perspective, this is an awesome program," Thompson said. "That is exactly what it is and it takes a lot of people. It takes the coaching staff, the players, and the people off the court to be successful. And I thought, "you know, we lose five players from last year and we are back in the final four, and so I think this program is a lot bigger than one person if not five. So, I have been lucky."


With her career at an end, Thompson is now the new NCAA record holder for assists per game average. Thompson finishes with a 14.56 average, which eclipses the mark set by former Colorado setter Kelly Campbell. Campbell averaged 14.45 assists per game from 1996-99.


"Once she gets over [the pain of losing this match] she'll look back and these will be some of the greatest years of her life," McLaughlin said.


Thompson finishes as a three-time First Team AVCA All-America selection and a reputation for being one of the most intense players on the court.


McLaughlin is quoted in the Washington media guide as calling it an "uncommon intensity," which is caught by her teammates.


"To be honored and have a chance to play with a player like Courtney, words can't describe," said senior outside hitter Janine Sandell, who transferred to Washington from UC Santa Barbara. "She has a drive like I have never experience before and she's a good person and she's an awesome leader on the court."


The 12 and 15 points that the Huskies scored in the first and third games of the match were the lowest point totals for a game in the NCAA semifinal matches since the NCAA switched to rally scoring in 2001.


The previous low of 19 points was set last season when Nebraska limited Santa Clara to 19 points and Washington limited Tennessee to that same point total in its semifinal match. The Huskies were the givers last year, and this year, they were on the receiving end.


It is the second time this season that the Cardinal has made quick work of Washington. Back on November 24, Stanford swept the Huskies and limited them to 15 points in game two of that match.


"If you don't pass well and you don't do the things that you are capable of, that can happen," said McLaughlin. "And we have done that to other teams, but [Stanford] came out firing and we were on our heels a little bit."


The Stanford players were probably the most pleased that the match only took an hour and 22 minutes to complete, given the schedule that they have kept since winning the Austin Regional.


The Cardinal choose to come straight to Omaha from Austin arriving on Sunday and then diving into their school work, having to take finals.


"It is not that much of a whirlwind for me or the coaches," said Stanford head coach John Dunning. "I can't even imagine what it is like for [the players]. We've been here since Sunday. I've slept a lot and looked at a lot of video but they have been having to study. I know some of them have gotten two and three hours of sleep some nights because of getting ready for finals or taking finals. I am sure it is a crazy whirlwind for them. There is no doubt about that.


"How they handle it is like a mystery every year. They seem to be able to do it. I think they grew up learning how to do it all through high school and club. I think they are good at it and it is pretty amazing."


When asked what else she's been doing in Omaha, Cardinal setter Bryn Kehoe said "Nothing!"


"Studying, sleeping, eating, volleyball, that is about it," she added. "I walked out of the hotel today and was blinded, 'cause I hadn't seen daylight."



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