Large Cast Of Huskies Win Season Opener, 3-0
Aug. 24, 2012
SEATTLE - Competition is officially open in more ways than one for the Husky volleyball team. The Dawgs opened their 2012 season with a 3-0 victory over Boise State tonight at Alaska Airlines Arena as part of the Northwest Challenge. But the storyline was the swollen box score, that saw 12 Huskies on the court, as Coach McLaughlin looks at several different position options and lineups.
The 14th-ranked Huskies (1-0) cruised through the first two sets before going on a late run to pull away in the third, closing it out 25-19, 25-17, 25-21. Sophomore Krista Vansant, the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, opened up with a double-double, leading the way with 12 kills and tying Jenna Orlandini for the team lead with 11 digs.
"Some good, some not so good," said McLaughlin. "We blocked 10.5 balls and we didn't even block that well. When this team buys into the serve and pass game, we're going to be awful good. We got in trouble when we passed and dug the ball too tight. But I liked the aggressiveness, I don't mind the errors at this point because we can learn from those errors. We passed the first test but for sure we've got a lot of room to improve."
Of all the new faces, the most exciting to see was senior Amanda Gil, who has spent the past two years on the sidelines waiting for tonight's moment. The 6-6 middle was the first one running onto the court in the starting Husky lineup, and she showed she still remembers how to control the net. Gil led the way with six blocks, one solo and five assists, as Washington outblocked the Broncos, 10.5 to zero.
Also making their collegiate debuts today were freshmen Katy Beals, Cassie Strickland, and Lianna Sybeldon. Beals split time at setter with junior Jenni Nogueras. Nogueras played the first set, Beals the second, and they shared time in the third, with Nogueras ending up with 14 assists compared to 13 for the newcomer from Austin, Texas.
Strickland showed no fear despite her small stature at outside hitter, getting four kills on several aggressive swings. She also had two aces with her jump serve, and she served Washington on a critical 5-0 run late in the third set that took UW from 13-16 down to an 18-16 lead. Sybeldon got her first career start at middle blocker, and she had one kill on just two swings, adding four block assists.
The Huskies opened the match on an 8-2 run in the first set and weathered a brief lull where Boise State cut the lead down to two before the Huskies pulled away again for the 25-19 win. UW hit .417 in the first set, led by junior Gabbi Parker, who had four kills on eight swings without an error. Vansant also put down four shots and Kylin Muñoz had two kills, an ace, three digs and three block assists.
Again it was the Huskies out well early in the second set. A 5-0 run on Orlandini's service took the lead to 12-4 around a Broncos timeout. Kills by Strickland and Vansant made it 18-10 and again Boise State called time. With Beals setting the table, Vansant found an especially good rhythm, notching six kills and just one error on 11 attempts for a .455 percentage. Parker also fired a pair of aces during one service run in the second as the Huskies closed it out, 25-17.
Senior Kelcey Dunaway and sophomore Kaleigh Nelson each got extended runs in the third set. Washington was slow out of the intermission, and did not register its first kill until Vansant polished off a Beals set on the 17th point at which point UW was down 8-9. Boise State had a four-point lead at 13-9, and was still up 16-13 before Nelson got her first kill of the night on the right side to send Strickland back to serve. She started with an ace, and then two more tough serves led to Bronco errors as the Huskies moved ahead. A block assist from Gil and Vansant punctuated a 19-17 UW lead, and then on match point, Strickland got the touch off the block and out to end it, 25-21. Washington his just .129 in the third set but Gil had three block assists and Orlandini was running all around the court, picking up seven digs in the frame.
Washington has several more sets to experiment and improve on Saturday, as UW plays twice, starting with a match against Gonzaga at 12 noon, and followed by a duel with Portland State at 7 p.m.
Gonzaga outlasted Portland State in five sets this evening in the first match of the day. Portland State and Boise State go tomorrow at 10 a.m., and the 4:30 p.m. match will be Gonzaga against Boise State.