SEATTLE – A straight set win was served up by the fifth-ranked Huskies in their home opener tonight over Seattle U., with 13 service aces providing a big spark. Washington (4-0) ran a crisp offensive attack, held the Redhawks (2-3) in check and came out with a 25-14, 25-10, 25-15 win in front of 1,240 fans at Alaska Airlines Arena.
No Washington player had more than seven kills on the night, with senior Kylin Muñoz and Krista Vansant tying for that high mark. But UW hit .366 for the night and had 7.5 blocks to just one for Seattle U. The 13 aces came packaged with just three service errors as well for UW, with senior Jenni Nogueras and sophomore Melanie Wade each racking up four aces apiece. Senior Jenna Orlandini had 10 digs to lead the defense.
“Playing some people in new positions and I thought it was overall pretty good, but for sure it’s not close to where we want to be,” said Head Coach Jim McLaughlin. “The effort and intensity was good, but we had a lot of breakdowns defensively with people not seeing things and reacting the right way, so we’ve got to clean those up. The serving was great. That will be tested against some potential Olympians this weekend, but we threw some good pitches with good movement.”
In the opening set, Seattle took the first two points, but then UW won five of the next six, with Wade putting down three kills in the first few rallies. Katy Beals tossed in an ace for a 7-4 UW advantage. Vansant came in from the middle for a kill and Seattle took an early timeout at 8-5. An ace from Wade made it 10-6 Huskies. Two kills from Sybeldon and a Nogueras ace pushed the UW lead up to 13-7. Seattle closed to within four, but the Huskies answered with a big seven-point surge to put away the first set. The run came with Beals serving, and featured three Vansant finishes and two blocks from Wade and Vansant. An ace from Vansant made it set point at 24-12, and Gabbi Parker checked in with a kill to end it, 25-14. The Huskies hit .462 in the first set with Vansant putting down six kills on seven swings with just one error for a .714 mark.
Two great serves from Nogueras resulted in a Muñoz kill and an ace to start the second set. The tough serving continued from Kaleigh Nelson, as she aced Seattle twice in a row, one going straight into the middle of the court, for a 6-1 lead and a SeattleU. timeout. Two more Seattle errors had the lead up to 8-1. The Redhawks steadied themselves and got within four points at 11-7, despite a couple Gabbi Parker kills along the way. But Washington quickly answered with a 6-0 run on Melanie Wade’s serve which included back-to-back aces at one point. A triple block from Nelson, Sybeldon, and Parker pushed it to 17-7. Another ace from Nogueras made it 20-8, and SeattleU. called its last timeout with the Huskies up 21-9. The Huskies reached set point at 24-10, and UW won the next rally to clinch it, 25-10.
The Dawgs grabbed another quick 5-1 lead in the third set to force a Seattle timeout. Melanie Wade served her fourth ace, and Parker and Nelson had early kills from the left to go with a solo block by Sybeldon. Leading 7-4, the Huskies went on a 6-0 run on Orlandini’s serve. Muñoz had a pair of kills in the run and Orlandini put an ace to the floor. A slam from Vansant made it 13-4 and forced Seattle’s last timeout. Redshirt freshman Justice Magraw checked in for her first home appearance, and helped the Huskies earn a couple points on serve to open up an 18-8 lead. Nogueras earned her fourth ace of the night, and then Wade put away a Nogueras set to take things to 23-13. A setting miscue gave UW match point, and Wade put another swing to the back line to end it, 25-15. Washington his just .258 in the final set but added three more aces and a pair of blocks.
Washington will now host a two-match exhibition series this Friday and Saturday against the Canadian National Team. First match will be at KeyArena on Friday at 7 p.m., then the teams will play back at Alaska Airlines Arena at 6 p.m. on Saturday.