SEATTLE – The venue may have changed, but the score remained the same, as the Husky volleyball team won 3-1 for the second consecutive night over the Canadian National Team. After earning a 3-1 win last night at KeyArena, the Huskies were back at Alaska Airlines Arena tonight and posted a 24-26, 25-20, 25-16, 25-21 win in front of 1,421 fans.
The two-match exhibition series came after the fifth-ranked Huskies had won their first four matches of the fall. They’ll return to NCAA match play next weekend, heading to Illinois on a similar path as the Husky football team to face 18th-ranked Illinois and Loyola Chicago.
From last night to tonight, Head Coach Jim McLaughlin said they made a few subtle adjustments. “We played two different lineups … and we may look at a few more,” he said. “But it’s not really a function of the system, they’re becoming volleyball players, and they have to pass, set, hit regardless (of the system). That’s the most important thing, just continuing to improve.”
Junior Krista Vansant turned in a double-double with 15 kills and 11 digs to lead the offense. Senior Kylin Muñoz was error-free on 32 swings, putting away 11 kills for a .344 attack percentage, while sophomore Melanie Wade had 10 kills and hit .350. Jenni Nogueras also had a double-double in assists and digs, passing out 27 assists and popping up 12 balls. Senior Jenna Orlandini had another big night in the back row, posting 21 digs after she had 28 last night. Sophomore Cassie Strickland also added 15 digs and five kills to the cause.
As a team, Washington hit .228 and held Canada to .166 on offense. Kills were dead even at 50-apiece, as were blocks at 8.0. The Huskies made up some ground on serve, with seven aces to five for Canada, and Canada made 16 service errors, while the Huskies had 10.
Early in the first set, neither team had no more than a one point lead until a pair of Canada errors put the Huskies in front 9-7. Melanie Wade had three kills in the first five points for Washington. Back-to-back slams from Vansant made it 11-7 Dawgs and forced a Canada timeout. Kaleigh Nelson found the floor for a five point edge at 14-9, but Canada rallied back with five of the next six points to cut the lead to one at 15-14 and force a UW timeout. Marisa Field had two straight aces for the Canadians as they took a 17-16 lead, but Parker’s first kill tied it back up. After Canada took two more, Muñoz terminated up the line, and then she and Sybeldon met for a rejection of Shanice Marcelle. On the next rally, again it was Muñoz and Sybeldon who rejected a new left side for Canada to put UW back up and forced a Canada timeout. Great serves from Strickland led to consecutive Vansant kills out of the break as the Huskies opened up a 22-19 lead. But Canada got back within one after a couple Husky errors. Muñoz brought UW to set point with a kill for 24-23, but Canada saved it with a kill. The Huskies couldn’t get a good rhythm on offense, and Canada took advantage of its chances on the next two points, with former UCLA star Tabi Love killing two in a row to grab the first set for Canada, 26-24.
Washington had two aces in the first four points in the second set, one from Strickland and another from Orlandini as UW took an early 3-1 lead. The Huskies would hold that lead throughout, breaking away with a 4-0 run for an 8-3 edge and a Canada timeout. Strickland had three straight kills in the run, hitting two from the left pin and crushing down one Canada overpass. The teams swapped points, with UW getting a big block from Vansant and Wade on a Barclay swing to make it 13-7. Canada put together a block with an ace to trim the lead to three at 16-13 and the Huskies took time. Sybeldon earned her first kill out of the break to snap the string. Then Sybeldon and Muñoz combined for a stuff, and Nogueras served up an ace to push back to a 19-13 lead. But Canada came right back with a 3-0 run of its own to get back into it and force UW’s last timeout at 19-16. Canada missed serve out of the break, and then Vansant and Muñoz put away back-to-back kills for yet another 3-0 run back on Washington’s side, and it was timeout Team Canada. Vansant added two more kills late to push UW to set point at 24-18. Canada saved the first two, but Beals set Vansant for one more big blow to end it, 25-20. UW hit a blistering .448 in the set, compared to .379 for Canada. Vansant and Muñoz each had four kills in the frame without any errors.
After intermission, two early Vansant swings got the Huskies going. A couple Canada miscues and a Gabbi Parker kill made the count 8-4 Huskies and prompted a Canada timeout. The Canadians had a rash of errors as an Orlandini service run extended the UW lead to 13-6. Just when it looked like UW had taken full control, Canada had its longest run of the night, putting five straight points together to cut the lead to 14-12. A stuff from Wade and Vansant broke the run, and that was followed by two more Canada errors as the Huskies started to rebuild the dyke, going back up 17-12. An ace from Nogueras got the Dawgs a 20-14 lead and forced Canada’s last timeout. The Dawgs continued to roll on to set point and a final Canadian miss ended things at 25-16. Canada wound up in the red in the third set, hitting -.029 with 10 errors to 9 kills, while UW hit .156 with five digs from Orlandini.
An ace from Tabi Love opened up a 5-2 lead for Team Canada in the fourth set, but UW climbed back thanks to a couple Cassie Strickland kills and took an 8-7 lead that resulted in a Canada timeout. Canada moved back in front by one point but not for long, as UW ripped off six in a row to go up 15-10 behind two aces from Orlandini and kills from Vansant, Muñoz, and Wade. That put Canada into its last timeout. Vansant added two more finishes and then an ace made it 19-12 Huskies. The Canadians had one final surge, forcing a couple Husky errors and then picking up three straight kills to cut the deficit all the way to three points at 21-18 and force UW’s first timeout. But Washington got a couple sideouts on Canada errors, and then had an emphatic stuff at net from Vansant and Sybeldon to reach match point at 24-19. Canada saved a couple to keep the crowd standing for a minute, but Muñoz collected her final kill off the blockers hands on the right side to finish things, 25-21. UW hit just .125 in the last set but Canada was under that at .115, as the teams racked up a ton of digs in the frame, 31 for Canada and 25 for UW.
The Huskies get back to regular season action and will face their first ranked opponent of the year as they visit No. 18 Illinois next Friday in Urbana-Champaign.