Dawgs Drop Five-Set Heartbreaker At No. 7 USC
Oct. 26, 2012
LOS ANGELES - A tireless effort from Krista Vansant and another single-match blocks record from Amanda Gil were not quite enough, as the fifth-ranked Husky volleyball team came up short in five sets at No. 7 USC, just a few points away from a season-sweep of the Trojans. USC (20-3, 8-3 Pac-12) came back from two sets to one down to earn a 23-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 15-10 victory in front of 2,693 at the Galen Center.
Washington (17-3, 8-3 Pac-12) was looking for its first road win over the Trojans since 2008, the last time UW swept the season series. The Huskies had a 3-0 win in Seattle earlier this season, and nearly closed out the match in four sets tonight, but a late USC run forced a fifth set and the Trojans played better over the final few rallies.
"Matches are defined by a couple plays, little plays that are common plays that we have made that we have to make at the end of games," said Head Coach Jim McLaughlin. "We battled, that's a good thing, but we didn't make enough good plays. At some point the battle is on and good plays are being made and that's a sign of a good team. I think this match can serve us well down the road, because this is the situation we're going to be in in some very significant matches towards the end of the season. We've got to really grab onto this as much as it hurts."
Vansant was a workhorse tonight for the Dawgs, likely moreso than McLaughlin would have liked. She took 80 swings, a career-high by 21 attempts, and had 20 kills to lead the offense. Her 80 attacks was the most by a Husky since Sanja Tomasevic had 96 attempts against UCLA in 2003. Washington's 20 team blocks helped close the gap on USC, which had seven more kills (68-61) and dug an incredible 107 balls while the Huskies had a season-high 83 digs, with a season-best 28 for junior Jenna Orlandini and a career-best 23 digs for freshman Cassie Strickland.
Gil tied the single-match blocks record with 15 blocks tonight, just two weeks after she had set a career-high with 14 at Oregon. All 15 of her blocks were block assists, breaking her own school record in that category. In terms of total bocks, 15 ties a 28-year-old record held by Julie Kurrus in 1984 against Montana State.
For the second-straight match against a top-10 opponent, UW had the better attack percentage but came up on the short end in five. UW outhit USC, .182 to .173 overall, and outhit Stanford last weekend in another difficult five-set loss. USC freshman Samantha Bricio was close behind Vansant with 74 attempts, and she recorded 30 kills.
In the first set, Vansant hammered home the first kill of the night on her first swing for the Huskies. The Trojans inched out to an early two-point lead at 6-4, then Gil hammered down her first kill on a quick set from Jenni Nogueras. Gil tipped for a second kill two points later for 6-7. The Trojans were red hot early, with eight kills on their first nine swings, and a Vansant miss made it 7-10 USC. Vansant put down an overpass and then a great Muñoz serve resulted in another Vansant kill on an overpass, and a USC error had things level at 10. A pipe set from Nogueras to Vansant led to her fifth kill and then UW took its first lead, 13-12, on a kill by Gil on a joust at net. A service error from the Trojans had the Huskies up, 15-14, at the media timeout, with both teams hitting over .400 early. Vansant ripped off another from the left out of the break, but Fuller got a kill for the Trojans to end the run, and then Muñoz missed just long for 16-all. But UW came back with a couple points on a USC miss and an Orlandini ace to the corner for an 18-16 lead and that forced a USC timeout. After USC got the sideout, Kelcey Dunaway banged one in and then USC missed two straight after tough Muñoz serves and needed timeout again with the Dawgs up 21-17. Bricio stopped the run with a kill out of the break, and USC followed that with a kill in the middle to cut it to 21-19 and force a UW timeout. The Trojans missed serve out of the break, but UW returned the favor and USC followed with a kill off the block to cut the lead to one and force another Husky timeout. On the next rally, Strickland took the Nogueras set and put her first kill off the hands, but UW missed its next serve, and the Trojans tied it up on the next rally at 23-all. Washington, held without a block to that point, stepped up with its first block (Gil and Nelson) after a great rally to earn set point, and then Gil liked that one so much she teamed with Muñoz on the next rally to block the Trojans swing and seal the set, 25-23. With the late blocks, UW cooled the Trojans down to .297 for the set, while the Huskies hit .302, led by Vansant's six kills. Bricio had eight kills, hitting .700, in set one for USC.
Gil teamed with Muñoz for a block early in the second set, then Orlandini notched an ace off Bricio for an early 3-1 lead. USC responded with an ace to tie it at three. A stuff by Dunaway led to a lift on USC to get UW a 7-6 lead. The teams traded sideouts, but USC jumped ahead with a 3-0 run on a block of Gil and an ace that Orlandini tried to let go out but it caught her shoulder for an 11-9 USC lead and a UW timeout. Vansant got UW back on track with a big kill out of the break, and added another from the right soon after to make it 12-14 Trojans. Nelson crushed down an overpass off the Vansant serve, then Strickland got the big solo stuff to tie it back up at 14-all before Vansant missed serve. USC took that mistake and came back with two more points on a block and Bricio kill and the Huskies needed timeout right after having tied it, down 14-17. Freshman Lianna Sybeldon checked in at that point and got the very first set and first kill for UW. Strickland went up the line on a Beals set to cut it to 17-18, but Bricio answered with a back row kill to keep the Trojans ahead. USC then had an ace to break it open at 17-21. Gabbi Parker checked in and terminated her first swing on the left, and Vansant followed with a finish to trim it to 19-21 and force a USC timeout. On the next play, UW set Strickland out of the back row in transition and she got it off the block and down for 20-21, but then she missed her next serve. Vansant answered with a slam. The Huskies had a couple chances to tie on the next rally but were unable to get it down and Bricio put it away. Vansant then missed wide and it was set point Trojans. Parker saved the first but the Bricio hammered another through the block on the next rally to end it, 25-22. Both teams hit .200 in the set, but USC had three aces to help get the edge.
Gil and Muñoz picked up an early block to get the Huskies off on the right foot in the third set. Gil added one on the other side of the net with Vansant for a 3-2 lead. A tough Orlandini serve led to a USC error and after another free ball came UW's way, Vansant hit out of the back for an 8-4 lead, forcing a Trojans timeout. USC got the kill out of the break and then put what should have been a free ball in for a kill as UW was caught unaware. Sybeldon got serve back with a slide kill for 9-6. Muñoz got one in to stave off a USC rally, then Strickland extended it to 11-8 with a tough serve. A long rally was ended by Vansant through the block as UW pushed back out to a 13-9 lead. The Trojans immediately answered with four in a row to tie it as UW could not stand success, making two hitting errors in the run and calling timeout. A kill from Nelson was followed by an ace to the back line from Vansant, and then Strickland ended an extended rally with a slam off the Trojans back row, and on the next Trojans swing, the Huskies threw up a triple block with Gil at the center for a stuff and an 18-14 lead. After a USC timeout, Gil and Nelson roofed Bricio, and Nelson kept the run going with a kill from the right for 20-14 before Vansant just missed her next serve long, snapping the six-point run. Kills out of the middle from Gil and Sybeldon kept UW moving towards the goal line, up 23-16. The Trojans ran off three straight and had a point at a fourth, but Muñoz and Sybeldon blocked Fuller for set point at 24-19. UW missed serve and then USC saved two more and UW had to call timeout at 24-22. The suspense ended quickly out of the timeout, as Beals set it back to Muñoz and she banged it off the block and down for the 25-22 win. Defense reigned in the set with both teams hitting under .100, as the Huskies had 5.5 blocks in the frame, four from Gil, to stymie the Trojans.
Washington couldn't find the range at the start of the fourth set, quickly falling behind 0-4 and calling an early timeout. Sybeldon got UW on the board out of the break with her fifth kill. But USC took two more until Gil and Vansant earned a block. Vansant followed that with a kill to cut it to 3-6, but the Trojans took two right back for an 8-3 lead. A Vansant right side hit was followed by another block from Gil and Nelson and then USC missed long as UW tried to walk down the Trojans. Out of the back row came Vansant to make it 8-9, USC answered with a couple back their way, then Strickland found room up the line for 9-11. Vansant got UW within one again at 11-12 but USC answered. Sybeldon hammered one on the quick set and then Gil led a triple block to finally get UW level at 13-all. They did not move ahead, however, donating serve. The Trojans then jumped back up with a three-point run, 17-14, before Vansant connected to stop the bleeding. Gil and Nelson sent the next Bricio swing right back down to cut it back to one, and a mad scramble on the next rally again ended with a block, Gil and Nelson stopping Hannah Schraer in the middle to level it at 17-all and force a Trojans timeout. USC got the sideout but Nelson got it right back, and then took their first lead of the set at 19-18 on a solo rejection from Sybeldon. Another stuff on the next rally, Sybeldon and Nelson roofing Shaw, made it 20-18 and forced another USC whistle. Bricio added another kill out of the break to end the Husky surge, then the Trojans tied it right back up with a transition kill, and Washington called its own timeout. Nelson fired long out of the timeout as USC regained the lead. The Trojans took another before Sybeldon won a joust at net to make it 21-22 USC. The Trojans got to set point at 24-22 with a right side kill from Shaw. Vansant saved the first with a big swing, but Bricio hit off the block on the next rally to end the set, 25-23 and force a fifth. Washington's block rolled up 7.5 rejections in the fourth set alone, while USC had zero. UW outhit USC, .196 to .163, but made four service errors to just one for the Trojans.
Early in the fifth, Muñoz ended a lengthy rally with a kill and then Gil and Muñoz blocked Bricio as UW staked itself a 3-1 lead on senior Kelly Holford's serving. Holford missed serve, then USC tied it, 3-3, with a block of Vansant. Another critical momentum point ended with another block for Gil and Vansant against Fuller for a 4-3 Husky lead. Vansant, well past her former career-high for attempts at that point, hit from the right side for a 5-4 edge, but Bricio tied it with her 26th kill. USC went up one but UW tied it again as the block kept returning Trojan shots their way until Gil and Nelson put it down. Sybeldon tied things at 7-7 with a quick strike. But Bricio got USC to the media timeout up one with a back row kill. Again it was the freshman Sybeldon that smashed it to tie things up, 8-8. But Bricio got the next kill and then the Huskies got aced straight to the back line and needed a timeout down 8-10. A clutch kill on the next rally came from Vansant's arm, and Holford came back in to serve. The Trojans finished in serve-receive, but Vansant answered again for 10-11. But Muñoz then missed serve and a long rally ended with a Bricio finish for a 13-10 USC lead and UW called its last timeout. Vansant got blocked on a tip attempt on the next rally and UW was down four match points. USC only needed one, with Bricio notching her 30th kill to take the set and the match, 15-10.
The Huskies will have a day off Saturday before they look to come out of L.A. with a split. Washington will be at No. 6 UCLA on Sunday for a 12 noon match broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks.