SEATTLE – Having dusted off all the sand from the inaugural sand volleyball season that ended just two weeks ago, Washington volleyball was back in action today with a pair of scrimmages against SeattleU. and Eastern Washington at Seattle’s ConnollyCenter. The Huskies swept all six sets from the Redhawks and Eagles, and got to see how familiar faces might fit in new places.
Washington played the two matches back to back, with just a short 20 minute break between them. First up was Seattle, and the Huskies came out on top in three sets, 25-15, 25-15, 25-12. The first set against Eastern was the toughest all day, as UW trailed until a late six-point run to close out the 25-22 win, and then the Dawgs took the last two sets, 25-17 and 25-11.
Huskies close out strong with a 25-11 win to beat Eastern 3-0 and finish the day 6-0! pic.twitter.com/grNwAspepc— UW Volleyball (@UWVolleyball) April 26, 2014
Head Coach Jim McLaughlin was on the recruiting trail, so Associate Head Coach Leslie Gabriel handled the coaching duties today. Coach Gabriel summed up what the Huskies have been focusing on over the last two weeks of spring practice.
“The past two weeks we have been spending a lot of time on improving each individual’s serve and passing mechanics as well as working on our offense,” said Gabriel. “By the end of last week we saw some girls making changes and so going into today we wanted to see the players come out and compete hard while at the same time working on perfecting their mechanics in those areas. It's real easy to revert back to old habits when stressed or in a game situation so today I just challenged them to keep improving and not go back to their old ways. I wanted them to show their family and friends what they had learned and worked on in the past two weeks.”
“Overall I am proud of the effort that the girls put into both matches today and I look forward to watching the film to see if we got a little bit better in those areas that we have been working on,” she said.
The first set against Eastern saw the Huskies put out a starting lineup of All-American outside hitters Krista Vansant and Kaleigh Nelson, along with freshman Carly DeHoog who redshirted in the fall. Melanie Wade and Lianna Sybeldon, an All-Pac-12 honorable mention last year, rotated at middle blocker. Katy Beals was the starter at setter, and Cassie Strickland got the first run at libero, the first indication that the sophomore is in the mix to replace graduated libero Jenna Orlandini after playing outside hitter the past two years.
Freshman Jade Finau also rotated in regularly at setter as UW ran a 6-2 offense for some sets and played a 5-1 rotation in others.
In the first set, Finau served an early pair of aces, and DeHoog put away a swing for an 8-3 lead. Wade had a stuff for 14-7, and Nelson served up an ace for a 16-9 lead. A block by Nelson and a kill by Vansant made it 21-13. Wade and DeHoog then teamed up for two straight stuffs as the Huskies finished the 25-15 set win.
Set two began with a Wade kill and then an ace. Another kill from Wade and a Strickland ace made it 10-3 and forced Seattle to take timeout. Kim Condie checked in for the first time to serve and stayed in the back row. Wade killed a quick set from Finau for a 19-10 edge. Sybeldon killed a slide attempt from Beals and the Dawgs wrapped up another 25-15 win.
Vansant and Wade started the third set with a roof, and then Vansant had two straight aces for a 4-1 lead. Strickland checked in to serve and hit an ace, and another serve that was overpassed for a Nelson kill. Another Strickland jump serve aced the Redhawks to extend it to a 9-3 lead. Justice Magraw checked in for the first time and had a perfect bump set to Vansant for a kill and a 14-6 lead. Washington never looked back in closing out the 25-12 win.
After a quick snack, the Huskies were right back in action against Eastern. But it took the Huskies a bit to get back up to speed, as the Eagles came out scrapping for every ball and quickly jumped up 5-0 on the Dawgs. UW began to climb back into it, with Strickland checking in for an ace to cut it to 8-10. Condie, who played libero in the set, had an ace of her own for 11-12, and UW tied it for the first time at 14-14. But Eastern took the lead back, and then had a 3-0 run to lead 22-19. Vansant killed two straight and Eastern called timeout, but DeHoog got a kill to tie it again at 22, and the Huskies took their first lead all set at 23-22 on an EWU error. Condie continued serving the run, and two more Eastern errors ended the closest set of the day, 25-22, in UW’s favor.
Magraw rotated into the libero spot for the second set against Eastern. The teams split the first 10 points, then the Huskies went on a run sparked by a triple block in the middle and an ace from Beals. Nelson had a rejection for 13-8, and UW opened up a ten-point cushion before cruising on to a 25-17 win.
Rallying their energy for one more set, UW moved out to an early 7-3 lead, as Beals got into the blocking action with a stuff, as she was in the front row, a rare occurrence over the past two seasons. Two Nelson kills and two more Nelson aces made it 10-4 Huskies. Nelson then had a bump set to Vansant for a kill, and Beals, in the front row again, dumped the ball over into open space for a kill and a 17-8 lead. Wade put down a quick set for 19-8. Sybeldon terminated a Beals set and then Wade tossed in an ace for 23-11, and the Huskies ended the day two points later with the 25-11 win.