Huskies Capture Tiger Classic With Win Over Rice
Sept. 1, 2012
HOUSTON - Washington claimed the Tiger Classic title today with a sweep over the Rice Owls this morning, then headed outside to find they had brought some Seattle rain to break the Houston humidity. The 12th-ranked Huskies completed a stellar weekend in the small Fox Gym, following up wins over No. 7 Purdue and LSU with a 25-21, 25-21, 25-22 win over Rice to improve to 6-0 on the season. Rice served as the host after Tropical Storm Isaac prompted the decision to relocate from Baton Rouge.
Sophomore Krista Vansant was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, her second straight week with an MVP honor. Also named to the tournament team was senior Kylin Muñoz, who was also on the Northwest Challenge tourney team, as well as sophomore Kaleigh Nelson, who capped a big weekend with a dominant performance this morning, as she had a career-high 11 kills and hit .714, making just one error on 14 total swings.
Vansant and junior Gabbi Parker shared the kills lead with Nelson, all three putting down 11 shots. Washington hit at a blistering .439 clip, but they needed to be that sharp offensively because Rice proved almost equally hard to stop, hitting at a .358 pace for the match. Vansant added 11 digs to her 11 kills for her second double-double of the season, and freshman Lianna Sybeldon showed her big potential in the middle as she had a season-best nine kills on just 13 swings for a .615 attack percentage with three block assists.
Rotating setters Jenni Nogueras and Katy Beals each had season-high assist numbers, with Nogueras posting 26 and Beals adding 23. Senior Kelly Holford played the full match at libero for the first time this season and chipped in six digs along with solid passing that helped UW's offense roll along.
In the first set, Rice took an early three-point lead, but the Dawgs rallied for four straight points to take the lead at 10-9. Vansant had three kills in a row to start the run and then a Nogueras ace put the Dawgs in the lead. Sybeldon's first finish put the Huskies up 12-10. Rice tied it up a couple times but consecutive kills from Vansant and Nelson put UW back up 17-15. Sybeldon put down two more swings late in the set, and a Parker finish made it 20-17 and forced a Rice timeout. Senior Amanda Gil got a solo stuff, and a couple points later she teamed up with Muñoz for another rejection to bring up set point. After a long rally, Rice couldn't pass the free ball back over and the Huskies took the set, 25-21. Washington hit .395 in the first set while Rice was also on point at .325. Vansant had five kills and six digs, while Nelson put down four balls on five swings.
In set two, consecutive kills by Sybeldon and Parker got the Huskies out to an early three-point cushion at 6-3. Then Nelson accounted for three-straight kills for UW to keep the cushion, but Rice wouldn't fold. A three point run got the Owls back ahead by one at 11-10. Muñoz kept UW moving with two spikes, one from Nogueras and one from Holford, but a Rice ace opened the lead to 15-12. Gil ended the run with a big swing to the corner, but Rice kept the lead at 18-15, until UW used a 3-0 run to tie it up. Nelson started it with another bomb, and then Vansant and Sybeldon cooled off McNamara with a block, and then Sybeldon teamed with Muñoz for another net win for 18-all. Soon it was Parker's turn to contribute a couple clutch kills as UW inched ahead at 22-20, making it a 7-2 run overall, and forcing a Rice timeout. After a Rice miscue, Parker put one off the block and out for set point at 24-21, and then Rice overpassed the Beals serve and Gil rose up and stuffed it straight down for another 25-21 final. Washington hit a sizzling .515 in the second set, offsetting the .314 mark from Rice. Nelson had five kills on a .667 clip and Parker had four kills on five swings to hit .800.
Things did not get much easier in the third set, as Rice continued its hot hitting and opened up a 10-7 lead. Washington answered with a 3-0 run sparked by Sybeldon, who got off to a big start in the third set. A Parker kill and Rice error leveled it at 10. But UW couldn't get the lead and after four more tie scores, Rice used a 3-0 spurt to take a 17-14 lead and force a Husky timeout. Out of the break, Sybeldon slid around to the right and hammered one, then Parker finished in transition to cut into the gap. The decisive run was sparked by another Parker kill, which sent the freshman Beals to the service line, and she immediately sent an ace right to the back line to tie it at 19-all. Another tough serve was misplayed into a Rice error and then Gil put one away on the next rally to make it a 5-0 run and a 22-19 Husky lead. Nelson brought up match point, flying in to rip one through the defense on the right, and then on UW's second match point, it was Sybeldon once again who banged one off the blocker and down for her fifth kill of the set on six attempts, a .833 attack percentage. Washington was actually out-hit in the last set, .452 to .417, but had one more kill. Parker also had five kills at a .500 clip in the final frame.
Washington heads home now and will resume non-conference play this Thursday when crosstown rival Seattle U visits Alaska Airlines Arena for a 7 p.m. tilt. The next night, a talented Long Beach State team will be in town for another 7 p.m. match-up.