Huskies Give It All But Fall In Five At Minnesota
Dec. 3, 2011
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS FIRST & SECOND ROUNDS
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Husky volleyball season came to a heartbreaking end tonight as the Dawgs lost a 2-0 lead to 13th-seeded Minnesota, falling in five sets at the Sports Pavilion in front of 1,325 fans in the second round of the NCAA Championships. It was the first time this season that the Huskies (24-8) lost a match after winning the first set, and their first five set loss of the year after three previous wins. Minnesota (20-11) advances to the round of 16 with the 18-25, 20-25, 25-17, 25-21, 15-11 victory, and will stay at home next week to face Iowa State.
Washington was led by the 22 kills of Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Krista Vansant, who hit .327. Senior Bianca Rowland played valiantly in her final match as a Husky with 13 kills, a .323 attack percentage and eight block assists. It was also the final match for seniors Lauren Barfield, and Evan Sanders. Barfield had five kills and six block assists tonight and Sanders had a double-double with 22 assists and 11 digs. Rowland finishes third in school history with 492 career blocks and second in career attack percentage at .387, while Barfield will rank in the Top-10 in attack percentage and blocks per set.
The Huskies were solid all-around in the first two sets, but their offensive production waned as the match went on, and Minnesota was rejuvenated after switching setters to start the third set, bringing in Mia Tabberson. The Gophers wound up outhitting the Huskies, .249 to .227, led by 29 kills from Katherine Harms. The Dawgs had a big edge in blocks, 14.0 to 6.0, but Minnesota dug up 95 balls to UW's 74, and Minnesota landed 78 kills to UW's 58, but made 15 more errors than UW.
Head Coach Jim McLaughlin was appreciative of the level of play from both sides, saying "It was good volleyball. It was a tough match to come up on the short end of the thing. Just in terms of effort, I was awful proud of what our team did. Minnesota played great; when Tabberson came in she changed the rhythm of the whole match. She got her key hitters hot, then they dug 95 balls, so it was tough for us to put the ball away.
It was the 10th consecutive tourney appearance for UW under McLaughlin, with the Huskies dropping to 27-9 in NCAA play in the current run. The Huskies had advanced to the Elite Eight in six of the past eight seasons and last lost in the second round in 2009 at Colorado State. Washington had overcome an 0-2 deficit in the regular season finale at Washington State, their first such comeback since 2007, but UW gave up a 2-0 lead tonight for the first time since 2009.
"Our team made a ton of progress from start to finish," McLaughlin said. "It's not a good season, the way we lost, but we did make a lot of progress. As well as (Minnesota) played it was still about us. For some reason we weren't a good road team this year. We were good at home. So we've got to search for those answers and figure out why. Our girls showed some composure, but they were better than we were tonight."
Minnesota served to start the match, and after a great save, Tori Dixon got a kill just off the block. Rowland came back with a kill to the middle on the next point. UW overpassed a serve from Kellie McNeil and Katherine Harris got a kill for a 5-2 Minnesota lead. But the Huskies came right back to get even at 5-5 on an Evan Sanders serving run. They then took their first lead at 6-5 on a block by Barfield and Parker against Wittman. Barfield and Summer Ross then roofed Cowles for an 8-6 edge, capping a 6-1 run. Muñoz tipped over the block for a 10-7 lead, then another Barfield/Ross rejection extended it another point. The Gophers closed within one with a block of Rowland on the slide attempt, but Vansant came back with a booming kill for 14-12. A Rowland finish from the middle brought up the media timeout with the Dawgs up 15-13. Two consecutive Vansant kills out of the break pushed the Dawgs up 17-13 and forced another timeout, this one called by the Gophers. Another Sanders serve put UM in trouble, and Vansant finished the next one for 18-13. The same scenario played out again on the next rally, as Vansant put down a free ball. The Gophers were then caught in the net and UW was up 20-13. Harms ended the 6-0 run on the next point with a kill up the line. The Gophers came back with three straight to make it 21-17 and the Huskies called timeout. Parker broke the run emphatically with a right side blast. Her serve was then overdug on the next rally and Ross jumped up to punch it down for the 23-17 lead and UM took its last timeout. The Huskies got to set point at 24-18 as Ross hit off the block and out. Rowland put it away, 25-18, after UM passed the Nogueras serve to tight to the net. The Huskies outhit the Gophers, .318 to .109, in the first frame, led by seven kills from Vansant, and four from Ross as she hit .444. Orlandini had 10 digs in the frame.
Rowland and Muñoz stuffed Dixon on the first point of the second set and then UM hit long, followed by a Rowland finish for a 3-0 lead before Dixon put one off the block. The teams traded sideouts, with Parker getting a kill off the block for a 6-3 lead as Sanders and Barfield rotated in. Minnesota missed wide, and two points later Barfield hit one quick for 9-5. Muñoz and Rowland blocked Dixon in the middle for an 11-6 edge, but Minnesota went on a 3-0 run to force the Huskies to call timeout at 11-9. Muñoz got a key finish on the left on the next point to stop the run. Nogueras fed Rowland for a quick smash and 13-10. A tough Orlandini serve led to a UM free ball and again Rowland hammered it for 14-10 and a Minnesota timeout. Harms got her 12th kill out of the timeout for the Gophers, but Rowland got serve right back with a kill before rotating out. Barfield reached back for a kill from on high and a 18-14 edge. The crowd got fired up after a long rally ended in a Vansant error sending over a free ball to cut it to two, but Barfield answered on quickly on the next point, and then Muñoz and Rowland roofed Harms for 20-16 and another Gophers timeout. The Dawgs put one more on the board before UM's setter dumped the tight pass down for a kill. The Gophers blocked Rowland for 21-18, but Muñoz put one off the defense and out, and the Dawgs won a joust at the net for 23-18. The Gophers dug Rowland but Vansant connected on the left to get to set point at 24-20. Parker then put it down on the right on the next rally to take it, 25-20, and send the Dawgs to intermission up 2-0. Washington hit .244 in the second set to .100 for the Gophers with four kills from Rowland, three from Parker and three more from Vansant. The Huskies also had five blocks in the set compared to two for the Gophers.
The Gophers served out of intermission and got the first point on a kill from Harms. Vansant hit a sharp angle for a kill to tie it at two. But the Gophers went on a 3-0 run to take a 6-3 lead capped by an ace, forcing the Huskies into an early timeout to settle down. Nogueras found Vansant on the right to end the run. Barfield was the first Husky aside from Vansant to pick up a kill, hitting off the block for 6-8. UW then put up a block comprised of Barfield and Muñoz to trim it to one at 7-8. But UW could not get back even. The Gophers extended back to a three point lead at 11-8. Vansant used the block effectively to make it 10-12. The teams continued trading sideouts, with Barfield putting away a Sanders set for 12-14. The Gophers got a disputed out call on a Vansant serve, and then another baffling call against Barfield who tapped down a ball the Huskies thought was clearly in play, but the ref ruled was on UM's side. The avalanche of questionable calls led to a 17-12 Minnesota lead and a Husky timeout. The Gophers continued riding the momentum, however, to three more points and a 20-12 lead on a 6-0 run before UM missed serve. The Huskies stabilized but could not trim much off the lead as the Gophers continued to roll on offense behind new setter, Mia Tabberson. Kills from Muñoz and Vansant got it to 17-23 and the Gophers took time. Cowles got the kill out of the break for a number of set points, and she finished the next rally for the 25-17 set win. Minnesota hit a red-hot .486 in the third set behind Tabberson, while UW hit .205.
A kill from Harms opened up a 5-2 lead for Minnesota early in the third set, and the Gophers then got a block on Vansant on the right side for a 6-2 lead and a Husky timeout. Vansant and Rowland had a huge block out of the break after two great Gopher digs, and then Minnesota fired long for 4-6. Sanders then scored the first ace of the night for UW, and the Dawgs tied it right back up with another booming block, this one by Barfield and Vansant against Dixon, and Minnesota countered with its first timeout. The setter Tabberson dumped for a kill out of the break, but Parker retied it with a left side kill. The Dawgs took their first lead, 8-7, on a Harms miss, but the Gophers evened it on the next point, then reclaimed the lead with an ace. The Huskies tied it at nine but then UM went on a 3-0 run for 12-9 and the Huskies called their last timeout. Vansant terminated on the back row set out of the break for 10-12. A UM miscue got it back to a one-point set. Muñoz found the back corner for a kill and 12-13. UW missed a chance on an overpass as Vansant's attempt was dug, and then the Huskies made an error to drop back 13-16 before Rowland finished one. Again the lead shrunk to one at 15-16 but Minnesota answered with a pair for an 18-15 lead. The Gophers went on a big run late on Tabberson's serve as UW lost its composure, falling back 16-23 before Tabberson served one long. Two big Parker serves kept hope alive and UM took timeout at 23-19. The Gophers got the touch call on the next point for set point. Vansant saved the first of five with a back row kill. Minnesota then missed wide on its next swing for 24-21. But after a long rally, Cowles hit off the block and out for the kill and the 25-21 set win, sending things to a fifth. The Huskies dropped to .073 on offense in the fourth, while Minnesota cooled but still hit .244.
Rowland started the Huskies off on the right foot in the fifth with a kill on the first swing. Vansant tipped one in for a 2-1 lead. Energetic digs from Minnesota were rewarded with a Harms kill and a 3-2 UM lead, but Vansant tied it up with a right side finish off the block. The Gophers took two for a 5-3 lead and UW called timeout. The run extended to three until Vansant hit from the back row for 4-6. Rowland and Ross got a much-needed block of Wittman to cut the deficit to 6-7 and force Minnesota's first timeout. Harms missed the next attempt after a tough Nogueras serve and the teams were tied, 7-7. Filho put on through the block in the middle for 8-7 UM and the teams swapped sides. The Huskies then did not talk on the serve receive and it fell to the floor for an ace and UW needed timeout again, down 7-9. Muñoz was dug on the next point and Wittman converted for 10-7. That played out again for 11-7, until Rowland crushed down a kill on the slide. But Wittman tooled off the block for 12-8. Rowland converted again to keep UW in the mix. Rowland and Vansant then stuffed Harms on the weak side for 10-12 and a Gophers timeout. Cowles was able to get her next swing down through the block for 13-10. The Gophers earned match point by digging Rowland twice and then converting their first try. Vansant saved one with a right side kill, sending Sanders to serve down 11-14. But UW could not stop the next rally, as Cowles completed the comeback with a left side kill, ending it, 15-11.