Top-Five Showdowns Await Volleyball
Sept. 25, 2012
SEATTLE - The first week of classes coincides with the biggest tests so far this season, as the Husky volleyball team puts its unbeaten record on the line against a pair of top-five opponents. Washington, ranked fifth in the AVCA poll and receiving three first-place votes, hosts defending NCAA Champion and fourth-ranked UCLA this Wednesday, Sept. 26, for a 7 p.m. match. The third-ranked USC Trojans then visit Alaska Airlines Arena on Friday, Sept. 28, for a 6 p.m. start. Friday evening's match will be the first ever "Blackout" match for UW volleyball, with all fans encouraged to wear black.
The first week of Pac-12 play brought plenty of drama, but the Huskies picked up four-set victories at home over Washington State and then on the road over Arizona to share the very early lead with Stanford and Oregon at 2-0. UCLA and USC were the top-two teams in the rankings last week, then the Trojans knocked off the Bruins in their first meeting, but USC was then upset in L.A. by the Ducks, the first loss of the year for the Trojans (13-1, 1-1 Pac-12). UCLA (9-2, 1-1 Pac-12) bounced back from its loss to USC with a home sweep of Oregon State. The Pac-12 is currently making quite the impression at the top of the national rankings, as Oregon jumped up to No. 2 this week, followed by UCLA, USC, and Washington at three, four, and five, and Stanford at No. 7. Penn State is holding off the Pac-12 at the top of the rankings, though the only loss for the Nittany Lions this year came at the hands of Oregon State.
Saturday, the Huskies swung down to Tucson and earned a hard-fought 3-1 win over a tough Arizona squad to improve to 11-0 for the year. Krista Vansant had 15 kills and Kylin Munoz added a season-high 14 kills as both outside hitters hit over .300. Jenna Orlandini's 21 digs were a season-best and Katy Beals had a season-high 28 assists and four clutch service aces in the 25-16, 25-23, 18-25, 25-23 win. Beals has moved up to second in the Pac-12 in service aces with 14 on the season, an average of 0.41 per set.
Last season UCLA became the first Pac-12 school since Washington in 2005 to win the NCAA title, topping Illinois in the final. Returning UCLA senior Rachael Kidder was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 NCAA tournament, and a First Team All-American. Washington swept UCLA in Seattle last year, but lost the rematch in Los Angeles in straight sets, despite two of those sets going to extra points. USC, meanwhile, is the defending Pac-12 Champion, off to another impressive start despite graduating several key seniors. USC won both meetings against the Huskies last year and made the Final Four.