SEATTLE – A well-balanced attack and some excellent defense against was the recipe to stifle a dangerous opponent today at Alaska Airlines Arena, as the sixth-ranked Huskies swept 16th-ranked Arizona State to improve to 13-1 on the year and 5-1 in Pac-12 play. Senior Kylin Muñoz had 11 kills, all in the final two sets, to lead the Dawgs, while Krista Vansant and Kaleigh Nelson each added 10 kills and senior Jenna Orlandini was a rock with 21 digs.
After winning a well-played first set, the Huskies won the final three points of the second set and then 10 of the first 12 points of the third to break things open, winning by the final count of 25-21, 25-22, 25-16. It was the third win this season for the Huskies over a ranked opponent. Arizona State (13-5, 2-4 Pac-12) made waves earlier this season with a sweep over defending NCAA Champion Texas. But UW held ASU’s hard-hitting offense in check, as the Sun Devils hit just .169, helped by Orlandini’s hustle and some tough serving.
Washington had 45 kills to 39 for ASU, and the Huskies hit .234. UW won the serving battle as well with three aces to none for ASU, and missed just five serves while ASU sent seven out.
Head Coach Jim McLaughlin said the end of the second set was crucial. “Games and matches are defined by two or three plays. The play I’m going to remember is we’re in a dog fight and Krista hits a serve that the bottom drops out of and we score. And then she does it again. I’m going to remember those two good serves at crunch time.
As for the senior from Monroe, “Kylin had maybe her best week of training this week, and we needed to get her the ball,” said McLaughlin. “I felt confident even taking some chances getting her the ball.”
Washington had a pair of early roofs to jump out to a quick 3-0 lead. Muñoz and Sybeldon got the first against Gardner and then Vansant had a solo stuff of a Follette slide attempt. Nelson had a right side slam on her first swing for a 6-2 edge, and then a free ball off a Vansant serve led to a Wade quick hit for 8-3. The teams traded points until the Sun Devils made a setting error and then a tough Strickland serve produced another hitting error to put the Huskies up 12-6 and force ASU’s first timeout. Kills from Sybeldon and Vansant got the Dawgs a nice 15-8 cushion, but the Sun Devils rallied with three in a row to force the Huskies into a timeout. Vansant put one away out of the break and then ASU missed long to rebuild the lead to 17-11. Nelson had two straight kills for a 19-12 lead, but the Husky offense then went cold and ASU took seven of the next nine points to cut it to 21-19 and force a Husky timeout. Sybeldon came up clutch out of the timeout with a missile, but ASU answered. Gardner then made an error but came right back with a kill for 23-21. Vansant had a right side kill to get the Huskies to set point, then Nelson ended the next rally with a crosscourt slam to seal it, 25-21. The Huskies outhit the Sun Devils .237 to .200 in the frame with the teams even in digs with 17 and blocks with three. Vansant had five kills and Nelson added four while Gardner had a big seven kills for ASU.
Muñoz got on the board with her first kill to start the second set, and it would be the first of many. Nelson landed one for a 5-2 edge and then Melanie Wade connected for 6-3. After the Sun Devils cut the lead to one, the Huskies went on a 3-0 run to move up 9-5 and force an ASU timeout. Sybeldon started the run with a quick kill from Nogueras, then Bailey sent one wide for ASU and a tough Beals serve then produced another error. ASU got the kill out of the break, and then ran off three more points to tie it up at 9-9 and prompt a Husky timeout. The run continued for three more points until a blocking error snapped it with the Huskies now trailing 10-12. After a Muñoz kill, Strickland had a diving dig and Nelson finished the point to tie things back up at 14. Vansant had her first kill of the set on a combo and followed with an ace to push the Huskies back up by one at 16-15. After an ASU point, Nelson and Sybeldon capped two straight rallies with spikes to make it 18-16 and force the ASU timeout. The Sun Devils fought back but Muñoz answered with two kills from the right. Gardner had another kill and then Wade missed one wide and it was knotted again at 22-all. Out of a UW timeout, Vansant finished from the right. The critical point of the match came on the next rally, as Wade and Nelson met a Gardner swing and sent it straight down for the block and set point. Vansant then dropped a low line drive serve short and ASU shanked it for an ace, ending the set, 25-22. Muñoz had six kills in the set to power the offense.
Muñoz picked up where she left off in the second set with a kill on the first point of the third. A big highlight came as Beals dug a rocket from Gardner, then Vansant bump se it to the middle of the 10-foot line where Strickland leapt up and crushed it for a kill. That was followed by another great Orlandini dig and a Muñoz finish for 5-1, and ASU called timeout. Muñoz then had a solo block against Gardner and Vansant capped a rally with a crosscourt blast for 7-1. After a Sun Devil point, Muñoz got the sideout again on a Beals set, then Nogueras served an ace and ASU sent one out of bounds for a 10-2 lead and another ASU timeout. Washington continued to apply great pressure on offense, taking a ten point lead at 14-4. Another three point Husky run built the lead to 19-7. The Huskies slumped a little late with a few hitting errors that dropped their attack percentage, but on their third match point, Nelson drove a Nogueras set through the blockers to end it, 25-16. Washington wound up only hitting .184 in the set but started out much hotter when they broke it open. Muñoz again had five kills and Orlandini had eight digs.
The Huskies have a quick turnaround for a Wednesday match against California, but get to stay at home. The match starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be live on the Pac-12 Network.