TEMPE, Ariz. – A new career-best 31 digs from senior libero Jenna Orlandini paved the way for the third-ranked Husky volleyball team to rally from a set down and stop Arizona State in four sets at the Wells Fargo Arena this afternoon. Washington (20-1, 12-1 Pac-12) also racked up a huge advantage at the net, blocking 18 Sun Devil swings in the 24-26, 25-22, 25-15, 25-17 win.
The first two sets were a grind for both teams. Washington saved three set points in the first set before falling short, and then in set two, the Huskies built a 19-12 lead but had to battle after Arizona State (16-10, 5-9 Pac-12) put on a 7-0 run to tie it, responding with a 6-3 stretch to even the match. But from there the Dawgs gradually asserted their will with stronger serving, blocking and digging. The Huskies had six aces (three from Cassie Strickland) to two for ASU, and also had a season-high 82 digs, with Jenni Nogueras also tying her career-high with 14 to go with 26 assists.
Junior Krista Vansant had 17 kills and junior Kaleigh Nelson added 16, with Melanie Wade and Kylin Muñoz adding seven apiece. Sophomore Lianna Sybeldon had nine blocks with a career-high three solo stuffs. Macey Gardner led the Sun Devils with 18 kills but hit just .108 as UW held ASU to just .102 as a team.
“We had no rhythm early. We were flat, our backs were against the wall, we got quiet, and I got on them a little bit,” said McLaughlin. “Then they started playing outside of themselves and their instincts came. Game two was pivotal; we were up and then Arizona State dug some balls and put some pressure on us, but we maintained our composure and got good swings. Then we served well and blocked well, and that carried us.
“It’s a good win because they’re a good team, and to do it on the road says a lot about this group after coming out in game one and not playing well.
Orlandini broke her previous career-high of 29 digs set back on Nov. 11, 2011 in a five-set win against Stanford.
“Jo had a career-high and she’s disappointed because she felt her passing wasn’t good,” said McLaughlin. “She’ll fix her angle, but she did a lot of other things that added to the team. She’s got to understand all the good things she does, and grab onto those things.”
Orlandini distributed credit around the squad for her strong showing. “It has a lot to do with the block. They were in good spots, making our defenders in good sports in return,” she said. “You give props all around to tough serving, tough blocking, being in good spots at the right time, and I think it was a good team effort there at the end.”
Vansant killed one off the defense for UW’s first point of the afternoon. A couple tough Nogueras serves put UW in trouble and a Wade-Nelson stuff of Gardner put the Huskies up 4-2. A nice serve from Melanie Wade was fumbled by the Devils for a 7-4 edge, but ASU put together a 4-0 run to take the lead as the Husky passing struggled against Follette’s serving. Nelson got one down to stop the bleeding and make it 8-all. Vansant had a solid pass then a big swing for 10-10. A long rally was ended by a Wade and Muñoz block for 11-up. The teams continued trading points, with Wade tipping over the block for a kill, then Strickland delivering in transition to put UW back on top, 14-13. Muñoz put one away from the left for 16-15 Huskies. But Arizona State ran off three straight points to force the first Husky timeout at 16-18. Vansant quickly terminated one from the left out of the break to steady UW. Wade then tied things at 19-all after a long rally and ASU called for time. An ASU block error on the next rally put the Huskies up one, but ASU got the sideout to tie it at 20. A long rally was capped by a Vansant right side slam for 21-20. Nelson was blocked as ASU went back up one at 21-22, then the Devils got a kill from BreElle Bailey for a 23-21 lead and the Huskies needed their last timeout. Wade was then blocked in the middle for set point ASU. Wade got one back for 22-24, then Sybeldon and Nelson rejected Bailey to save a second and force ASU’s final timeout. Out of the break, Bailey had a swing but sent it well out and the Huskies were back even at 24-24. ASU got a fourth set point with a Bailey kill. Nelson had a swing but was dug on the next point, and then Macey Gardner rolled one off Nelson’s block and it fell down to end the set, 26-24. ASU outhit the Huskies, .250 to .220 in the set despite six kills from Vansant on a .357 attack percentage.
After ASU took the first point of the second, the Huskies strung together three in a row for an early lead, but ASU came right back to tie it at 3-3. Consecutive Vansant kills made it 5-4. Nelson hit an offspeed ball for a 7-5 edge, but the lead was erased at 7-7. The lead flipped from ASU back to the Huskies as Vansant found the line from the back row, then Sybeldon and Muñoz blocked Bailey for 11-9. Strickland ended an ace-less drought with a blast that was barely touched by the Devils, then another roof from Sybeldon and Muñoz made it 14-10 Dawgs and ASU called timeout. Muñoz then flipped a tight set over and down to extend the run, and Strickland crushed another ace for a 16-10 lead. Then it was yet another stuff from Muñoz and Sybeldon for 17-10, before ASU was bailed out with a net violation to break the 6-0 Husky run. Vansant ended an important, lengthy rally with a tip for a kill and then an ASU miss made it 19-12. The Sun Devils battled back, however, with three in a row to force a Husky timeout at 19-15. Washington made two more errors as the Devils crept within two at 19-17, then Vansant was blocked and UW needed its last timeout, leading just by one at 19-18. UW still couldn’t break the run out of the timeout, as ASU tied it at 19, but a Muñoz kill finally ended the 7-0 run and put UW back up one at 20-19. Nogueras then served a big ace for 21-19, and ASU swung into the net for a three-point lead and ASU called time. Gardner put one through the Husky block out of the break for the Devils, but Nelson ended a disorienting play with a kill from the left. Nelson got another from the right this time to reach set point, 24-21. ASU saved the first with a kill in serve-receive, but Nelson put the nail in the coffin with another slam to end it, 25-22. The Huskies hit just .179 in the set but held ASU to a .167 mark. Nelson had five kills on eight swings without an error in the frame after having just two kills in set one. Orlandini added eight digs in the set.
Wade had a block and a kill early in set three to get things going, then added a dig that led to a Nelson kill for 3-1. Nelson and Sybeldon teamed for a block after a couple ASU points for a 4-3 lead. The teams began sprawling all around the court, letting next to nothing fall and piling up digs on both sides, as it was 5-5 through the first ten points. A Beals set was hammered down from Vansant for a 7-6 lead, then Nelson converted in transition for 8-6. Nelson banged another off the block and out on UW’s side for 11-9. Long rallies continued to be the norm, as the teams traded points to 13-11 UW. Strickland then pounded another ace to the back corner for a three-point lead. Vansant then capped the next point with a shot past the block for a 15-11 lead and ASU took timeout. Follette got a kill for ASU in the middle out of the break. Sybeldon emphatically landed her long-awaited first kill and then the Sun Devils sent one long for 17-12. Strickland then hit the Beals set down out of the back row and ASU took its last timeout at 18-12. One of the longest points of the night came out of the break and Muñoz finally ended it with a stuff. The block was there again to return the Binns middle attack back to sender for a 21-12 advantage. A Nogueras back set to Vansant on the right was put away for a 23-15 Husky lead, then Vansant brought UW to set point with an ace. ASU sent the next point long to seal the set for the Dawgs, 25-15. Five blocks from the Dawgs in the third set helped hold ASU to a negative percentage in the frame as they had 9 kills but 11 errors for a -.042 mark, offsetting just a .135 mark for the Dawgs. Orlandini added nine more digs amidst all the long rallies.
Nelson and Wade started set four off with another block for the Dawgs cause. But the Huskies couldn’t find a kill, and needed timeout early after a four point ASU run. Out of the break, Nelson put one through the block and then the Husky block registered another rejection to make it 3-4. An ace from Wade got UW back even at 5-5. A Strickland blast in transition put the Huskies in front, 7-6, then Muñoz tooled the block for a kill on the following rally, and then Vansant dumped a pipe set into open space for a kill and a 10-6 Husky lead that forced the ASU timeout. ASU earned a kill to snap the great Beals serving run out of the timeout. Strickland’s jump serve led to a free ball that Vansant converted for 12-8. ASU earned two straight but Sybeldon and Muñoz then roofed Gardner to retain a three-point lead. The Devils continued to shave points off the lead but a Wade tip got the sideout at14-12. A couple more Orlandini digs led to a Nelson right side slam for 16-13, then Nelson and Wade hung up to stuff down a roll shot attempt and push the lead to 17-13, forcing the Sun Devils to their bench for a timeout. Nelson got another one to fall and then Gabbi Parker delivered her first kill of the day to continue the Vansant serving run. Orlandini set Nelson on the right again for a kill that capped a 6-0 run to put the Huskies ahead 20-13. Strickland earned another kill but ASU grabbed the next two points before serving long for a 22-16 Husky edge. Sybeldon and Muñoz inched the Huskies closer to the finish with a stuff, and then the same pair earned the Huskies a bevy of match points with the 18th block of the day for the Dawgs. On their second chance, the Huskies got a violent strike from Sybeldon in the middle to cap the comeback, 25-17. Washington had its best offensive set in the third, hitting .343 and holding ASU to .049.
Washington will head straight to Tucson tonight and be back on the court in less than 24 hours to battle Arizona starting at 1 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow. The match will be live on the Pac-12 Networks.