No. 5 Dawgs Rally Again For 3-2 Win At Cal
Nov. 7, 2012
BERKELEY, Calif. - A total team effort was required and delivered by the fifth-ranked Husky volleyball team tonight, as Washington fought off a pair of match points to come from behind and defeat California, 3-2, at Haas Pavilion. It's the second straight five-set victory for the Huskies (20-4, 11-4 Pac-12), who moved into third-place in the Pac-12 race with the huge road win.
Washington's play was up and down throughout the match, but the Dawgs dug in after going down two sets to one, and were able to cool off a Bears team that had just upset then-No. 2 Oregon in Eugene last week. Set scores were 25-22, 22-25, 16-25, 28-26, 17-15. UW completed a season sweep of California (13-12, 7-8 Pac-12) for the first time since 2006 and won at Haas for the first time since 2009. The Huskies were down a match point in the fourth set, and another in the fifth, before winning it on their second match point when Krista Vansant's shot found the Cal blockers' fingertips and went down for the kill.
The win came on the heels of a 3-2 win in Seattle over Utah on Sunday, and the Huskies will now trek over to Palo Alto to end the difficult run Thursday night at No. 1 Stanford. That match will tip at 8 p.m. and be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.
Head Coach Jim McLaughlin went to his bench regularly, using all four Husky middle blockers and all five outside hitters among 12 players total. "I've never used 15 subs in a fifth game. Everybody contributed," McLaughlin said. "These matches come down to the stuff that takes you beyond your talent, those values we talk about all the time that we want every kid in our program to hold dear. They fought like crazy, and persevered, and it was a good deal."
Freshman Cassie Strickland had a big night, tying her career-high with 11 kills and hitting .348 while tossing in two aces and digging 11 balls. Junior Jenni Nogueras had a double-double with 22 assists and 11 digs. Freshman Melanie Wade got off to a great start with seven kills through two sets, and she added two more in the fifth set for nine total on a .316 hitting percentage. Vansant battled all night to wind up with 18 kills to lead the team, and junior Jenna Orlandini had 21 digs and two more aces.
Cal held the edge in attack percentage, .282 to .205, and the Bears had an edge in kills (74-64) and digs (80-66), but UW had six aces to four for the Bears, and Cal missed 13 serves while the Huskies missed only nine. Washington also held a slim lead in total blocks, 13.0-12.5
A couple early kills from Kylin Muñoz on the right side and the first big block of the night from Vansant and Gil had the Huskies on top, 4-1. Melanie Wade and Kaleigh Nelson provided another rejection, followed by an ace from Jenna Orlandini for an 8-3 lead. Vansant banged one off the back row defense for her first kill and a 12-7 edge. The teams traded points, with Wade putting away her first swing out of the middle for a 15-10 lead at the media timeout. A block by the Bears on Vansant cut the lead to three at 18-15, but Muñoz responded with a kill running into the middle to get the sideout back and Cal took time at 19-15. Nelson and Gil blocked a tip attempt from Gehan to push the lead back to five at 21-16, but Cal got the sideout and then UW hit one wide to cut it to 21-18. Again the Husky block responded, with Nelson and Gil stuffing a bit swing from Gehan, but the Bears answered with two more points to force UW to take its first timeout at 22-20. Cal hit long on the next rally, and then whistled for time. Muñoz hammered one to the back corner to get the Huskies to set point at 24-21. Cal saved the first with a tip kill, but on the next play, Beals set Wade for a swing and a kill off the back row to clinch it, 25-22. Washington outhit the Bears, .297-.229 in the first set, with Muñoz tallying a team-high four kills on six swings without a miss. Gil and Nelson had three block assists apiece, as UW had five team blocks in the frame.
Strickland opened the second set with a darting ace as the teams swapped the lead a few times early, with UW tying it up at 5-5 on a Nelson offspeed kill. Three times the Bears took a one point lead, and three more times UW tied it, until Gehan put one through the block for the first two-point lead for any team at 10-8 Cal. Vansant came right back with a rocket straight to the floor. But the Bears pushed the lead to 13-10 and forced the Huskies into a timeout. Cal earned one more point on serve before serving one wide for 14-11. The rookie Wade then began to lift the Huskies back into the set all by herself, as she had three kills during a 4-1 run to cut it to 16-17 and force a Bears timeout. At that point, Wade already had surpassed her previous career-high for kills with seven. The Huskies had a couple swings to tie it on the next rally, but Cal regained the momentum with a block of Muñoz. However, Kylin came right back with a kill on the next serve-receive for 17-18. Washington finally tied it back up at 20-20 with its first block all set, Gil and Nelson stuffing Gehan. But Cal sided out to keep the lead, and then came up with a big dig and a kill in transition on the next rally for a 22-20 lead which forced UW's last timeout. Strickland kept the Huskies alive with a critical kill after a long rally out of the break, but then the Huskies donated two straight points at the worst time, hitting one ball long and then missing a set connection between Nogueras and Wade. That gave Cal three set points, the first of which was erased on a Nelson kill. But Cal hammered home the next attempt to take the set, 25-22. The Huskies hit just .186 in the set while Cal connected at a .395 clip. Wade had four kills and Nelson had three more, both hitting over .500.
Early in the third set, the Huskies started slow offensively, falling behind, 2-5, and needing an early timeout. The 5-0 run was snapped by a Vansant right side finish. Strickland and Nelson added kills as UW's offense began to find its stride again, but Hawari kept piling up kills for Cal to keep the lead fluctuating between two and three. Vansant put another away to make it 8-10, but Cal came back with a kill and an ace for 8-12 before Muñoz got one back. Washington continued to sideout on Cal's serve, but could make zero headway on its own serve, and eventually a Bears block of Nelson pushed the lead to 17-12 and forced the Huskies into their second timeout. Cal extended it with an ace out of the timeout, before Strickland unloaded to stop the streak. UW though promptly missed serve and then Cal added another block for 20-13. Cal continued on to set point at 24-15, and converted its second opportunity to end the set, 25-16. The hitting told the story, as UW hit just .111 and the Bears were nearly unstoppable at .522, barely getting into any rallies when returning the Husky service.
The fourth set began the same way as the second, with a Strickland ace. Senior Kelcey Dunaway checked in for Gil early in the fourth to try and jumpstart the Husky block. Wade aced the Bears for an early 4-1 lead. Dunaway provided that blocking spark quickly, getting in on a stuff of Hawari for 5-3 and Hawari's first error of the match. Strickland took a big back row swing and found room, and then Muñoz served an ace straight to the floor for a 7-3 UW edge, forcing a Cal timeout. Cal came right back with three points out of the timeout to shrink the lead quickly back to one and the Huskies had to take their own timeout. The Bears got another kill to tie it at 7-7, then had an ace to take the lead. Lianna Sybeldon checked into the middle but Cal dug her first swing and converted again for a 9-7 lead. Vansant put one away on the right side to end the six-point Cal streak. The Huskies tied it back up at 10-10 on a Strickland kill and an Orlandini ace. A tough Beals serve eventually ended in Beals getting an excuse-me dig for a kill and a 12-11 UW lead. Strickland ended one of the best rallies of the night with another spike through the block for 13-12 Huskies, and Vansant ended yet another nice rally on the next point with a kill off the block and out for a two-point edge before Strickland missed serve. Muñoz and Sybeldon provided a deafening thud to the end of a Gehan swing for a block, and Vansant followed that with a kill up the line as the Huskies moved out to a 17-13 lead and forced Cal into another break as UW was on a 3-0 run. Cal earned a big point on the next rally, with Nikki Gombar sneaking a back row trouble swing through UW's block. But Sybeldon came back with her first kill of the night on a slide for 18-14. Nelson saved a broken play for UW with a tip through the block, and then Strickland and Sybeldon roofed Hawari for a 20-15 lead before Gehan sided out for Cal. The Bears began to threaten, as the Huskies grazed the net on a tight pass, and then Wade was rejected in the middle and the Huskies needed timeout with the lead down to 21-20. Nelson swooped in from the right side and put one off the defense and into the seats for 22-20, and then Strickland converted another big swing in transition off a perfect Beals set. Cal came up with another block to trim the lead to one again, and then the Bears tied it after punctuating a long rally with a kill on the slide. UW ran a combo to Strickland who pummeled it to the floor for set point at 24-23, but she then served just long to give Cal life. UW earned a second set point after Cal missed wide, but the Bears killed in serve-receive to save it. A back-and-forth went Cal's way on a Correy Johnson right side finish and suddenly the Bears had a match point on their hands. Vansant hammered a kill off a Beals bump set to save Cal's first match point chance, then the Bears missed wide for a 27-26 UW lead and a third UW set point. Finally, the Dawgs stood tall on the left side as Sybeldon and Vansant rejected the Correy Johnson slide attempt straight back down to pull out the thriller, 28-26.
The hitting numbers were identical in the fourth set, both teams hitting .196 with 15 kills, 6 errors, on 46 attempts. The difference was at the service line, where UW had four aces to just one for Cal. Strickland played perhaps the set of her young career, as she had six kills on nine swings without an error (.666 Att%).
Wade picked up her first kill since the second set to start the fifth, tipping over the block, then Cal swung long for an early 2-0 lead before Cal's Higgins got them on the board with a left side kill. The Bears then ran off three straight points for a 5-3 edge, forcing the Huskies into an early timeout as UW was unable to finish despite solid passing. Vansant came up with the big finish out of the break to stop the mini-burst and then Gabbi Parker covered the Johnson slide attempt for a roof to tie it at 5-all. The Bears caught a big break by catching the tape with their serve as it fell for an ace for 7-5. The Bears earned a kill and then finally blocked Strickland to build a 9-6 lead and the Huskies needed timeout again. The deficit crept to four until Nelson unloaded on a right side set for a kill to make it 7-10, and Cal took its first timeout. Out of the break, the Bears hit one long and then Parker tipped for a kill, her first of the match, and then she promptly drilled her second through the block after a great Orlandini dig and the Huskies had tied it back up at 10-10 on the serve of Beals. Hawari gave Cal the lead back with a slide finish for 10-11. Wade answered with a quick kill in the middle, but Cal sided out again, and then Higgins connected for a 13-11 Cal lead after the Bears dug a Vansant swing. UW ended a long rally with a critical block of Higgins thrown up by Muñoz and Wade to make it 12-13 Bears and Cal took its last timeout. UW threw another punch, as a joust at the net was won by Vansant on a solo rejection to tie it up again at 13-all. On the next play, a Cal pass was drifting towards the net, but Sybeldon was a bit overanxious, and she reached over to hit it and grazed the net for an error to give Cal its first match point of the set and second of the match. On the next tense point, Vansant found the back corner to keep UW alive at 14-all. On the next play, Orlandini bump set back to Vansant in transition and she put it off the defense and down to bring up the Huskies' first match point with Muñoz serving. Cal's Gehan saved that one with a kill, but then Gehan missed long on the next rally for another UW set point. A great up by Nogueras led Orlandini to set Vansant out of the back and her shot grazed the hands of the Cal block before sailing away for the point and the match as the elated Dawgs let loose.
The Huskies hit .219 in the final frame and held Cal to just .156. Orlandini had six big digs and Vansant came up with four kills including the saving swing down match point and the final swing to end it.