PORTLAND, Ore. – Overcoming a sluggish start, the fifth-ranked Husky volleyball team picked up steam throughout its match at Portland State today, culminating with an outstanding third set to close out a 25-22, 25-17, 25-10 win. The Huskies (2-0) hit .640 in set three, and will look to maintain that focus into their final match of the Northwest Challenge against Gonzaga later today back at the Peter W. Stott Center.
Portland State falls to 1-1 in the season-opening tournament, while Gonzaga will head into this evening’s match at 0-2 after losing a tough five setter to Boise State this morning. UW defeated Boise State last night in its first match of the year.
Preseason All-Pac-12 selection Krist Vansant had an outstanding match, connecting on 17 kills with just one error on 25 swings for a .640 attack percentage. That kill total is her second-best ever in a three-set match, topped by a 20 kill night in a 3-0 win at Oregon State last year.
Overall the Huskies hit .283 as a team after a slow start. Kylin Muñoz and Kaleigh Nelson each had seven kills apiece. Jenni Nogueras and Katy Beals were even with 14 assists each, and senior Jenna Orlandini barely missed the first double-double of her career, as she had a career-high 10 assists to go with nine digs. The Dawgs had a big 14.0 blocks, led by sophomore Melanie Wade who set a new career-best with nine block assists.
The Vikings came out fired up and took the first three points before Lianna Sybeldon connected for UW’s first point. Krista Vansant, Cassie Strickland, and Kaleigh Nelson all got early kills as the Huskies tied things up at 6-6. But the Vikings answered with three straight points, and three more kills in a row from Leigh-Ann Haataja extended the PSU lead to 13-8 and forced UW’s first timeout of the season. Muñoz stopped the run with a kill, then UW used a six-point rally to erase the debt and take its first lead at 15-14 on a Jenna Orlandini ace. Portland State came back to retake the lead at 17-16, and pushed it to two points on two occasions. Nelson had kills each time to get the Huskies back close. A block from Muñoz and Sybeldon tied things back up at 20 and forced Portland State’s last timeout. PSU got a kill out of the break, then Muñoz hit long and it was the Huskies who needed time. PSU missed its next attempt, and a nice Strickland serve led to a Vansant kill for 22-all. Strickland then upped the ante and fired an ace off the defense for 23-22. The Dawgs got set point after Vansant stuffed down a 50-50 ball above the net. Another great Strickland serve on set point was overpassed, and again Vansant leapt up to hammer it down for the kill and the set, as the Huskies cleaned up the final five points. Vansant had seven kills in the first frame.
After the Vikings took the first point of the second set, UW ran off four in a row to take the early momentum. Another four-point run on a Vansant kill, two block assists from Wade and Nelson, and a Katy Beals ace made it 8-2 Huskies. The teams swapped a few two-point runs back and forth, until UW used another four-point burst on Strickland’s serve to break it open for good. A big block by Sybeldon and Muñoz made it 13-7 Dawgs. Another roof from the same pair made it 15-8, and then Strickland cranked another ace, and Sybeldon and Muñoz put down yet another block on the right side for a 17-8 edge. Orlandini dropped in an ace for 20-10, and Vansant followed with a kill off a Nogueras set. Muñoz ripped the ball crosscourt from the right for 22-10, and UW got to set point at 24-13. The Vikings saved four set points in a row, blocking several UW shots, but Wade ended things at 25-17 on a quick set from Beals. Wade had four kills in the set and UW had six blocks, holding Portland State to -.111 offensively.
Washington continued to raise its game in the third set, rolling out to an early 5-1 lead with a couple Vansant kills and Wade assisting on two blocks. Beals aced the Vikings for an 8-2 edge. Nelson and Strickland had back-to-back kills for a 12-5 advantage. Up 14-8, Muñoz put down a set from Orlandini and the Huskies proceeded to pour it on, going on a 6-0 run and a 10-1 run overall to get to match point at 24-9. Washington’s block repeatedly stuffed the Vikings during the stretch. Oregon natives Nelson and Gabbi Parker had a couple late kills, and then teamed up for a stuff to bring up match point. Parker then hammered a quick set in the middle to end it, 25-10. Washington hit a scorching .640 in the final set, playing error-free with 16 kills on 25 swings. The Huskies also sided out at 100-percent, converting on all 11 chances. Vansant was unstoppable in the third set, taking seven swings, and killing all seven.
The Huskies will be back on the court in just a few hours to take on Gonzaga in their final match of the opening weekend.