SEATTLE – A prolific offensive attack and a block that revved up late powered the third-ranked Huskies to a 3-1 win over a tenacious Cal State Northridge team tonight at Alaska Airlines Arena. Washington had no blocks through the first two sets, but posted eight over the last set and a half to stop the Matadors, 25-13, 21-25, 25-14, 25-21 in front of 1,590 fans. With the win, the Huskies head into the Pac-12 conference schedule with an 8-0 record, and will trek to Washington State next Wednesday for the opener.
Washington hit .341 as a team, holding the Matadors (10-3) to .191. Moving the ball around were setters Jenni Nogueras and Katy Beals; Nogueras finished with her first double-double this season with 26 assists and 10 digs, and Beals was just one dig shy, with 24 assists and nine digs. Sophomore Cassie Strickland also had a double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs, while senior libero Jenna Orlandini had a team-high 13 digs and three aces.
Converting the other end of the sets was junior Krista Vansant, who put down 16 kills and hit .424. Sophomore Lianna Sybeldon matched her career-high with 13 kills, hitting .435, and junior Kaleigh Nelson added nine kills on a .381 attack rate.
Head Coach Jim McLaughlin was happy with the win over a quality opponent, but is looking for greater stability. “At some point consistency becomes the deal,” he said. “Game one came easy, too easy, we hit fifty percent and did a good job, then game two we hit eighteen percent. Some of it was self-induced but (Cal State Northridge) is good. They’re well-coached, and they played well, dug balls, and they don’t make many errors. So to come back and win this thing is a good deal for us.”
After collecting four aces last night against Coppin State, Orlandini put UW in the early lead with back-to-back service aces. Vansant then put down her first two kills of the night for a 6-3 advantage. Strickland pushed one deep for a kill in the left corner, and then Nelson connected from the right side for a 10-5 lead and the Matadors called time. A Nogueras ace stretched the lead to seven at 14-7. Nogueras went to her middles for two points, quick setting Sybeldon and then Melanie Wade for kills. Vansant finished a tough rally off the libero and out for an 18-10 advantage which forced Northridge’s last timeout. Another 3-0 run on Melanie Wade’s serve made it 22-12 Huskies. The last three points would be run off by Sybeldon. Beals tossed a set forward up to the sophomore for a high-powered spike. Then two Nogueras serves were overpassed by the Matadors and Sybeldon leaped up to put each of them away to end the set at 25-13. The Huskies hit a blistering .517 in the first set while Cal State Northridge also hit well at .308. Sybeldon’s run at the end of the set got her up to five kills on six swings in the set for a .833 attack percentage.
Sybeldon started the next set with another kill as UW jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Northridge quickly answered with four straight points to poke in front. Another 3-0 Matadors run earned them a 10-7 lead, but Strickland snapped that with a booming shot through the block, and then another rolled over the defense and down. A Vansant finish and a Northridge error knotted things at 14-all. The Huskies then crept ahead on Kylin Muñoz’s first kill of the night and a CSUN error for a 16-15 lead. But the Matadors bounced right back with two to go back in front. Nelson tied it with a right side finish, but an ace from Brooke Dawson made it 17-19 and UW needed timeout. They stretched the lead with two more points before Strickland banged one off the block and down for 18-21. Another Strickland kill and a Nelson shot cut the lead to 20-21 and forced a Northridge timeout. But UW missed serve out of the break, and after a Matadors error, they answered with the final three points, as Nogueras and Sybeldon mistimed a quick attack on set point, ending things at 21-25. The Huskies hit just .176 in the set compared to .270 for Cal State Northridge.
The block of Muñoz and Sybeldon shut down a Matador swing, and then Wade converted in transition followed by an Orlandini ace as the Huskies pushed out 15-12 and forced a Northridge timeout. Out of the break, the block party continued to rage as Wade and Vansant shut down two Casey Hinger swings, and a near block on the next play resulted in a Matadors error around the antenna to extend the run to 18-12 and force the last Matadors timeout. Yet another roof out of the break from Wade and Muñoz kept Orlandini serving, and back to back Vansant transition kills were followed by a Matador miscue for 22-12, before Orlandini finally served wide to end a 10-0 run. The last three points all went to Vansant’s right arm, as she finished sets from Nogueras, Beals, and one from Nelson to cap the set, 25-14. All told it was a 13-2 run to end the set. The Huskies hit .379 for the third frame and the five big blocks dropped the Matadors down to .054 on offense. Wade killed all four of her swings and Vansant put away five more.
The rejuvenated block continued early in set four as Muñoz and Vansant got in on stuffs with Sybeldon for a quick 5-1 Husky lead and Northridge timeout. But the Matadors started chipping away and got it down to 8-7 until a Strickland swing and a CSN error made it 10-7 Dawgs. Consecutive put-aways from Sybeldon and Vansant made it 13-9, but Matador pushed back and cut the gap to two points on an ace at 14-12. The Huskies needed a timeout at 15-14 after a bad pass led to a setting error. Beals bumped one around the net post back to Vansant who took a swing and got the kill to the back line on a key play for 16-14. The lead shrunk to one again, but consecutive kills from Nelson and Muñoz made it 20-17, and after a Northridge timeout, an error had the Dawgs up 21-17. UW stumbled, however, making an error and letting an overpass fall for a kill and suddenly it was 21-20 and the Huskies called for time. Out of the break, Vansant had a perfect pass and Nogueras set Muñoz for the clutch kill. A long rally on the next point with several tips was ended when Sybeldon reared back and pummeled one down, and then UW earned match point after Northridge overdug the Strickland serve, and Vansant banged it back down. On the second match point, Nogueras went quick to Sybeldon, and she completed a great night with her 13th kill to end things, 25-21. The Dawgs hit .326 for the final set, with Cal State Northridge at .171, in part thanks to 21 digs from the Husky defense. Vansant and Sybeldon each had five swings in the set, with Muñoz adding four more.
Washington now dives right into Pac-12 play next week with visits to rivals Washington State and Oregon. First up are the Cougars next Wednesday, Sept. 25, in a 7:30 p.m. match airing live on the Pac-12 Network.