Freshman Wade Powers Sweep Of Bears
Oct. 21, 2012
SEATTLE - A career-best night from freshman middle blocker Melanie Wade helped spark the fifth-ranked Husky volleyball team to a straight sets victory over California today at Alaska Airlines Arena. Washington (17-2, 8-2 Pac-12) got back into the win column after a pair of tough defeats, treating the 2,284 fans in attendance to a 25-23, 25-15, 25-15 win over the Bears (10-10, 4-6 Pac-12).
The Huskies hit the halfway point of Pac-12 play third in the league with an 8-2 mark. UW now heads off on one of its toughest road trips of the season, traveling to Los Angeles to face No. 7 USC on Friday, Oct. 26 and No. 6 UCLA, on Sunday, Oct. 28. The Dawgs also snapped a six-match losing streak against the Bears.
Wade filled up the box score in every category, making just her third career start and playing in only her fourth match of the season. The 6-5 from Palo Alto, Calif. had season-bests in every category down the line, posting six kills and a .545 attack percentage, and leading the team with three service aces, seven blocks, and also adding an assist and two digs. Her 12.5 total points were a match-high.
Sophomore Kaleigh Nelson's 11 kills were a team-high and she hit .429. Krista Vansant added 10 kills and seven digs. Junior Jenni Nogueras had a team-high 18 assists and seven digs and Jenna Orlandini's 12 digs were a team-high. UW hit .241 overall while Cal was held to just .073. The Huskies, who lead the NCAA in blocking, had zero blocks in the first set but then 12 over the next two sets combined. The Dawgs had 40 kills while Cal had just 29 overall.
Shaking off Friday's heartbreaking loss to Stanford, in which UW missed out on a match point, was a key for Head Coach Jim McLaughlin.
"It has that residual effect, and I was thinking about (the loss) so I was worried the girls were thinking about it. But they came out and played hard. I still think we can play better, but we did respond, and played a good team well, and did a lot of good things. Now we get ready for a tough road trip. All that matters is improvement."
On Wade's breakout night, McLaughlin said "there's something about (Wade). She's `Steady Eddie', she's a fighter, and she keeps getting better and better and I really like her."
Wade made a quick impression right from the start, as Nogueras set her right in the middle for a kill on the first point of the match. The Dawgs took a 3-0 lead, and then Wade went on a nice serving run as freshman Cassie Strickland and senior Amanda Gil registered a pair of kills and Wade notched her first career ace for a 7-2 advantage. Wade had another put-away for a 12-7 lead, and then Vansant and Nelson powered a 3-0 run to push the lead to 15-8 at the media timeout. The teams traded points and the Huskies maintained a six-point edge until 22-16, but then the Bears made a late run as UW had some passing breakdowns. The Bears scored four straight before UW took a timeout at 22-20. Nelson hammered one on the right side out of the break, but then the Bears had a kill and a service ace and suddenly the lead had evaporated at 23-all. Out of another UW timeout, it was Nelson again that got the clutch swing. Cal called time on set point, and after a long exchange, Cal's Lara Vukasovic missed one into the net and UW pulled it out, 25-23. Nelson was the driving force with five kills and Wade converted four kills on six swings without an error, surpassing her previous season-best for kills in just one set.
Washington came out ready to roll in the second set and grabbed nine of the first 10 points to break it open early with a Bears timeout in the middle trying to stem the tide. Washington's block finally got in gear during the stretch, with Wade and the diminutive Strickland assisting on both of them, shutting down Correy Johnson on the right side, a move which had worked well for Cal in the first set. Cal slowly closed the gap, and trimmed it to as little as three points at 12-9, but Strickland had a key kill and then Wade and senior Kylin Muñoz rejected consecutive swings from Christina Higgins, and then Higgins sent one long and the Dawgs had built the lead back up to 16-9. Wade and Muñoz stuffed another two points later, and a couple Cal miscues forced them to take time at 18-11. Nogueras set Nelson again for a 20-11 lead, and UW continued to push to the finish. Vansant and Muñoz had back-to-back kills to get to set point, and then Strickland hammered home an ace to end it, 25-15. After no blocks in the first set, UW had six in the second, with Wade assisting on every one, holding Cal to a .000 attack percentage while UW hit .375.
The Bears came out of intermission and had their best early run, taking five of the first seven points before a key block by Gil and Strickland on Johnson got UW back in rhythm. Freshman setter Katy Beals got a rare kill on a ball she dug that flew back towards the net on a line, catching the tape and dropping down for a point. Strickland and Gil then tied it up with a roof, and Gil had a solo rejection in the middle for a 6-5 UW lead. Strickland extended it to a five-point run and Cal would not lead again. The Bears tied it back up twice, but UW used a 3-0 run to take a 12-9 lead and force a Cal timeout. Vansant, Muñoz, and Nelson traded kills on the streak, and then Vansant had another out of the break assisted by Wade. Washington broke it open with another five-point streak from 14-11 out to 19-11, the final two points in the run coming on line drive Wade service aces. Vansant had a pair of kills out of the back row late, and on match point, Wade got one more block, assisted by Vansant, to close it out, 25-15. The Huskies hit just .171 in the last set but held Cal to negative numbers at -.062. Vansant had her best set with five kills on a .333 attack percentage, and Gil had all five of her blocks in the last set.