SEATTLE – In front of a season-high 4,589 fans on “Black Out” night, the sixth-ranked Husky volleyball team earned a hard-fought four set win over Arizona tonight. In their Pac-12 home opener, the Huskies (12-1, 4-1 Pac-12) used a nice night from their outside hitters and also served up 10 aces en route to a 25-10, 25-20, 21-25, 25-20 victory.
Junior Krista Vansant had 14 kills and a .287 attack percentage to go with 11 digs, a couple aces and four blocks. Kaleigh Nelson hit well, posting a .320 mark with nine kills, and Kylin Muñoz added eight kills on a .250 attack percentage.
In front of a black-clad Dawg Pack of two thousand Husky students, Washington hit .276 for the match, compared to .176 for Arizona. It was the first home match for UW this season with school in session.
The Huskies had 10 aces, led by four from Cassie Strickland, while Arizona had just three. Arizona (12-5, 2-3 Pac-12) was led by 13 kills from Madi Kingdon but had its two-match conference win streak snapped. Washington has won ten-straight matches over Arizona in Seattle.
“The basic numbers are good, we met some good standards, but there’s still some ebb and flow,” said Head Coach Jim McLaughlin. “We come out after playing some really good volleyball, but I knew Arizona would get better, they’ve got some people that allow them to be good, and they jumped on us and had the advantage. Then we settled down and it was a dog fight in game four. That’s how it’s going to be all season. We’ve got to come out of the break on our assignments and with an edge.”
Washington stormed out in the first set to a 4-0 lead as the Wildcats looked rattled by the huge crowd perching over the scorer’s table. But Arizona quickly responded by tying things up at 5-5. A Nelson transition kill started the Dawgs on another run, as Strickland’s serving produced excellent transition chances and Vansant converted for 9-5, followed by a Strickland ace for 10-5 and a Wildcats timeout. Strickland came right back with another ace out of the break, and Nelson extended the run with another kill. It was 13-5 before UA snapped the eight-point surge. Tough serves by Wade led to Arizona errors as the lead hit ten at 16-6. Vansant had three more kills in a four point stretch and Beals floated an ace for 20-7. The Dawgs got to set point quickly on a Muñoz and Sybeldon block and then an ace from Vansant. Sybeldon then rejected a Jane Croson try in the middle to end it, 25-10. Washington rolled to a .391 mark in the first set and Arizona was flummoxed with just four kills to go with eight errors for a -.148 percentage.
A Wade quick kill had the Huskies up 2-1 to start the second set, and Vansant put one down for 4-3. After trading sideouts back and forth, the Wildcats got their best run going, taking four straight points for a 11-9 lead and the Huskies called timeout. Arizona extended the lead one more before serving out. Nogueras then came right back with an ace. A kill from Nelson and an ace from Strickland got UW back even at 13-all, and then Nelson and Wade teamed up to reject Croson to move the Huskies into the lead. Another rejection on a tip attempt in the middle made it 15-13 Dawgs. Vansant produced three more kills as the Huskies maintained a three point edge, then Sybeldon killed in transition for 19-15. Arizona closed to 19-17 but Vansant buried the combo set and then Strickland ended a nice rally with a boomer off the block. The crowd hit a fever pitch on the next point, as Vansant had a couple diving digs and then Muñoz hit straight to the floor from the left for 22-17. Muñoz had another kill to the back line for set point at 24-19, and after Arizona saved the first, Strickland converted the Nogueras set to end it, 25-20. The Huskies hit .317 in the set led by six more kills from Vansant, as she hit .667 and also added five digs.
In the third set, the Huskies lost the first four points and six of the first seven, and did not get their first kill until Gabbi Parker had her first of the night on the right side for 3-7. Beals served up an ace and Muñoz and Sybeldon blocked Kingdon to cut the deficit to 7-9, but after a Strickland kill made it 9-11, Arizona ran off six of the next eight points to pull ahead 17-11. The gap hit 13-20 when the Huskies called timeout. A tough Vansant serve led to an Arizona error that shrunk the lead to 15-21, and Arizona took time, but came right back with a quick Kingdon kill in serve-receive. Muñoz had a kill but then was blocked on the next rally which could have made things interesting, and instead forced UW’s last timeout. Out of the break, Arizona was called for a serving violation, and UW took advantage with a Nelson transition kill. A long rally ended in a Wildcats error for 19-23, and Arizona took its last timeout. Nogueras missed serve out of the break to set up set point. Nelson saved the first with a big slam, and then Strickland lasered an ace to the floor to save another. But Croson put an end to the run with a kill from the left to stop things at 25-21. The Huskies ended up hitting just .053 in the set while Arizona posted a .306 mark. No Husky had more than two kills in the frame.
In the fourth set, the teams tightened the screws and played solid, trading points back and forth with eight tie scores until the teams were at 10-10. A three-point Husky run built the biggest advantage at 14-11, with Sybeldon starting the run with a kill on the slide, then a Kingdon error into the antenna followed by a Strickland slam off an overpass. Strickland pummeled another off the block and out to get to the media timeout at 15-12 Dawgs. Out of the break, a couple great covers from Katy Beals led to a Muñoz finish. Then Orlandini got an assist from the net tape, as it fell for an ace and a 17-12 lead. Arizona took timeout, then stopped the run with a kill in serve-receive from Kingdon. A quick kill from Wade and a transition swing through the block by Nelson kept UW moving forward. Wade got credit for a kill on an overpass that Arizona interfered with to make it 20-14. But just as UW looked poised to break away, the Wildcats reeled off three straight points to force a Husky timeout at 20-17. Out of the break, Wade and Vansant teamed up for a stuff for 21-17, but UW then served long, and Arizona followed that with a short ace off the net. A kill from Croson cut the Husky lead to one and forced UW’s last timeout. Out of the break, Arizona had a costly service miss, then a tough Beals serve forced a Croson error for 23-20 and Arizona took time. On the next rally, Vansant got one off the block and out on UW’s side for match point at 24-20, and after a back-and-forth on the next point, Sybeldon and Vansant met to block Amaro’s swing to clinch it for the Huskies, 25-20. The Huskies hit .406 in the last frame and held Airzona to a .158 mark.
The Huskies will be back in front of the Dawg Pack on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. when 16th-ranked Arizona State visits.