Huskies Drop Roller Coaster To No. 2 Stanford
Oct. 19, 2012
SEATTLE - The Husky volleyball team played two of the best sets its played all season, hammering second-ranked Stanford in a pair of 25-10 set victories, but the critical third set proved elusive. Sandwiched between the high points of the first and third sets, the Cardinal saved set points in the second and match point in the fourth to eventually win by the score of 10-25, 28-26, 10-25, 26-24, 15-7. In total points, No. 5 Washington led 107 to 89, but fell for the first time this season at Alaska Airlines Arena, in front of a season-high crowd of 4,401 fans.
"There are only so many opportunities in life," was how Head Coach Jim McLaughlin began his post-match remarks. "It wasn't about the numbers, it was about making that one play at the end. If we make one more play we're out of here in four, maybe three. Give Stanford credit, they hung with us, but we could have ended the thing. It's a lesson that has to be learned. There's no magic dust or anything you can say, it's something you have to grab onto and fix. You do that at practice where every little play is important. Terribly heartbreaking, but not discouraging because I think we can fix it."
The Huskies (16-2, 7-2 Pac-12) will look to bounce back on Sunday against California with a 1 p.m. start in another match airing live on the Pac-12 Networks. Stanford denied the Huskies a share of the Pac-12 lead, improving to 17-2 and 9-0 in league and winning its 15th match in a row.
Washington led in just about every statistical category, out-hitting Stanford for the match, .194 to .110, and leading in kills (56-50), assists (51-46), blocks (16.0-7.0) and aces (8-2). Stanford had a few more digs, 83-76, though the 76 for UW was a season-high. Stanford's previous low for points in a set this year was 13, but they were held to 10 twice tonight.
Sophomore Krista Vansant had another fantastic all-around match, posting a match-high 24 kills while hitting .310, and adding 14 digs and a career-high six blocks, including three solo stuffs. Sophomore Kaleigh Nelson had 15 kills on a .481 attack percentage. Freshman Katy Beals also had a double-double with 21 assists and 15 digs, and junior libero Jenna Orlandini was all over the floor for 21 digs.
Freshman Melanie Wade started the match, just her third appearance of the year and second start. A pair of the first few points of the match were marathons, as the two teams indicated early that they were ready to live up to the billing of a top-five battle. And Stanford's defensive prowess shone early, but the Huskies hung tough and Vansant earned a pair of kills on Stanford overpasses, then Vansant and Wade blocked Rachel Williams for a 6-2 Husky lead and Stanford called time. Wade earned a solo stuff on a tip attempt from Stanford's Wopat, and then a pair of Kaleigh Nelson kills from the right side pushed the Husky lead to 11-4 and forced a second Stanford timeout. The Huskies continued to roll out of the break, with Stanford faltering with a few more hitting errors and the lead stretched to ten at 16-6. After the Cardinal trimmed it to 18-10, Washington closed the set on another seven point streak, with Vansant posting two solo rejections in the run. The Huskies rolled away, 25-10, with six big blocks holding Stanford to a -.175 percentage as it managed just five kills against 12 errors.
Stanford made a run to start the second set, taking a quick 5-1 lead, but the Huskies answered in short order. Kylin Muñoz served an ace and then Nelson killed one from an Orlandini set to tie it at 6-6, but Stanford scored the next three to get back on top. Washington tracked them down again and took its first lead of the set at 12-11 on a block by Amanda Gil and Muñoz. But the Cardinal rallied and the teams traded the lead until the Huskies were victimized by an ace to go down 18-20 and then called time. A Stanford service error and a Vansant kill tied things at 21 and Stanford took time. The freshman Wade then assisted on two blocks, one with Vansant and another with Muñoz, and the Dawgs earned set point at 24-23, but Muñoz missed her next serve. Nelson answered with a kill for another set point, but Stanford saved that one and then Nelson misfired for a Cardinal set point. Stanford missed its first chance but Wopat earned another and then Gil was blocked on a set that hung too low, and Stanford had suddenly evened the match at a set apiece, 28-26. The Huskies hit just .143 with Stanford up to .227 for the set.
After the intermission, it was a carbon copy of the first set, with the Huskies jumping out to a 5-0 lead behind the serve of freshman Cassie Strickland. Vansant had several kills in the early run as the Huskies went up 9-1 on a solo stuff from Vansant. Another kill by Nelson made it 12-2 and Stanford already used its last timeout. Beals tossed in an ace for a 17-5 Husky lead. Similar to the first set, the Huskies rode momentum to a big blowout, taking the last four points in a row to match the first set score, 25-10. Again the Cardinal had more errors than kills, hitting -.034 while UW had its best set of the match, hitting .375 with five kills from Vansant and three each from Nelson and Muñoz on four swings apiece.
The fourth set was even early on, with Stanford going on a three point run to take an 8-6 lead and force a UW timeout after Brittany Howard earned three points in a row. The Huskies fell five points back at 10-15 before they started to make a run. Vansant and Gil roofed Stanford's Ajanaku on the right side to force a Cardinal timeout at 13-16. Out of the break, Strickland kept up her strong serving, and the Huskeis reeled off three more on a couple Vansant kills and a Stanford miss to tie things back up. Washington then got two critical service aces from Muñoz to go up 20-19, and then Wade and Nelson rejected the next Stanford attempt for a two-point edge. Wade then had a swing at an overpass but just missed it, a key moment that saw the lead shrink back to one instead of jump to three. Stanford tied it up at 21, but Nelson got a kill off the block to keep the lead. After a Husky error, Nelson converted another, then Nelson stopped a Cardinal attempt to bring up match point for the Dawgs at 24-23. But Beals sailed her serve way long, and then Stanford got the digs it needed and turned them into offense, getting a set point on a Howard kill. On the next rally, a messy play was set low to Vansant and she hit into the block and Stanford had silenced the crowd with a 26-24 win. Vansant had nine kills and hit .571 in the set, while Nelson had four kills on six swings, but the rest of the Huskies had just one kill combined on 18 attempts so UW hit .184 collectively.
In a fifth set for the second time this season, the first the thrilling win over UCLA, Washington dug itself a deep hole losing the first four points. Gabbi Parker got a right side kill to stop the run, but UW found itself down five points as Stanford was siding out with regularity. Down 5-10, the Cardinal misfired and then Muñoz had a transition kill for 7-10, forcing a Stanford timeout. But that proved to be the last Husky point of the match, as the Cardinal rolled to the final five points, ending it, 15-7. Stanford was nearly flawless in the last set, hitting .400 while the Dawgs struggled to a .091 mark.