No. 2 Dawgs Break Through Utah's Block
Oct. 5, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY - Washington had outblocked every opponent it had faced this season, however Utah led the Pac-12 and ranked second nationally with its own athletic block. Something had to give, and it was the second-ranked Huskies that broke through with greater consistency at Utah's Crimson Court. Washington (14-0, 5-0 Pac-12) came out with the road win, 25-14, 25-16, 23-25, 25-20, led by 17 kills from Krista Vansant on the left and a dominant hitting night from Kaleigh Nelson on the right.
UW remains on top of the Pac-12 in the early going, tied with Stanford at 5-0. The Cardinal upset Oregon, 3-2, in Palo Alto tonight, leaving the Huskies as the last undefeated team in D-I. Washington now heads to Colorado to face the Buffaloes on Sunday at 2 p.m. in a match live on the Pac-12 Network.
The Husky block again finished on top, with 14.5 blocks to Utah's 10.0. The Dawgs hit a very nice .361 with 29 assists for freshman Katy Beals and 28 for junior Jenni Nogueras. Utah was held to a .148 mark, with Jenna Orlandini recording a match-high 18 digs. Leading the block party was senior Kylin Muñoz, who had a career-high 10 block assists, while senior middles Amanda Gil and Kelcey Dunaway each had seven.
The Huskies had big leads in kills (64-41) and digs (53-41). Vansant, last week's AVCA National Player of the Week, had her fifth double-double of the season with 12 digs to go with her match high 17 kills, while hitting .351 for the night. Nelson was brutally efficient with 15 kills on 23 swings with just two errors for a .565 attack percentage. Freshman Cassie Strickland also had a career-best 11 kills, and Gil added seven kills to her seven blocks, hitting .462.
After trading points early to start the match, the Huskies got the first significant lead with a 3-0 run for a 5-2 advantage. Vansant got a kill on a Utah block error, and Muñoz's serve led to a couple more points. Another finish from Vansant was followed by a Utah error for 7-3. Katy Beals, one of the top servers so far in the Pac-12, then stepped up and served up an ace, and a rejection of Morgan Odale by Amanda Gil and Muñoz broke it open at 12-5 and forced a Utes timeout. Out of the break, Cassie Strickland checked in with her first kill before Utah stopped the five-point run. The lead hit ten on consecutive finishes by Vansant and Muñoz. Kaleigh Nelson got into the mix with a couple late kills to keep the lead at double figures, and another stuff up at net from Gil and Muñoz got the Dawgs to set point, then another block, this one by Kelcey Dunaway and Muñoz finished it off at 25-14. The Huskies hit a dominating .552 in the set (17-1-29), with Muñoz posting five kills on eight swings for a .625 mark plus four block assists.
The Huskies took the lead in the second set for the first time with a 4-0 run for a 6-3 edge. Vansant and Strickland had put-aways in the stretch and Vansant dialed up an ace. Nelson and Gil converted back-to-back for an 8-4 edge. After Utah cut that lead in half, the Huskies had another four-point run in them for a 12-6 lead that forced the Utes to take time. Again it was big work done by the block, as Gil and Muñoz teamed up for two in a row, then Gil had a middle kill to force the whistle. Muñoz continued to fire away for two more terminations, and then Vansant and Dunaway met at the net for a stuff that made it 15-10. Utah then made a run to trim the lead to 16-13 and force a Husky timeout. Nelson came out of the break with the key kill, and Strickland followed with another to rebuild the lead to five points. A blocking error on Utah got Nelson another kill, and then Strickland rolled another rin for 21-14 and Utah now needed timeout. Gil brought up set point with a kill and then Vansant closed it out, 25-16, with another swing. Washington rolled again in set two, hitting .406, with Nelson hitting .600 with four kills and Gil converting all three of her attacks. Utah was held to just .094.
The Utes gained the early control in the third set, opening up a 4-1 lead and then a 6-3 lead to force a UW timeout. Nelson and Strickland cut into the lead with consecutive kills for 7-9, but Utah answered back by pushing the lead up to five points on a couple occasions. A three-point UW run on a Vansant kill, Utah miscue and block from Dunaway and Muñoz got it down to 12-14. Muñoz then tossed in an ace to cut the lead to one, and kills from Vansant and Nelson got the Dawgs back even at 16-all. Washington then moved on top for the first time all set, with Dunaway and Nelson teaming for the block. Utah took timeout, but then Erin Redd missed one for the Utes, and Tjasa Kotnik also misfired and the Dawgs were up 19-16. Utah had another rally, however, with Kotnik getting a couple kills and tying it up at 20. The lead see-sawed, with Gil and Vansant finishing points for a 23-22 lead that forced a Utah timeout. But out of the break, Strickland missed her jump serve, and then Utah's Morgan Odale suddenly aced the Huskies twice in a row, ending the set in stunning fashion, 25-23 for the Utes. Washington still outhit Utah, .216 to .143 in the frame, but three service errors by UW against three aces for Utah helped swing it, and wasted a great set from Vansant, who had seven kills at a .545 rate.
Looking to regain momentum, the Huskies started the fourth set with an ace from Strickland. Shortly after that, the Dawgs got rolling again with a 5-0 run, scoring on a couple Strickland kills, a kill from Nelson, a block and a Vansant ace. That built up an 8-4 lead and forced Utah to take time. The teams then traded sideouts, with Gil recording a couple kills to maintain the four-point cushion. Utah cut it down to two, but then Dunaway and Vansant stuffed Schofield, and Nelson got the kill on a Utah block error for 15-11. Another Utah run this time shaved the lead to one, but Washington stepped on the accelerator again with a kill from Nelson, set by Gabbi Parker who had just checked in. Parker then hammered her first kill of the night and Gil tapped one down and suddenly it was back to a four-point gap and Utah needed time. Muñoz got her career-best 10th kill late in the set, teaming with Gil, for a 21-16 edge, and Utah would not get closer than three. Dunaway tipped for a kill, and then Vansant brought up match point at 24-20 with her 17th put-away. On the first chance, Nelson hammered home the Nogueras set for the 25-20 victory. The Huskies were back up hitting .314 in the set led by five kills from Nelson and three from Gil on four swings.