No. 2 Huskies Embark On Key Road Stretch
Oct. 3, 2012
SEATTLE - Washington heads back on the road looking to extend its unbeaten streak and stay atop the Pac-12 standings this week. Coming off big home wins over UCLA and USC, the Dawgs can't let up as they head to Utah and Colorado for a pair of matches televised live by the Pac-12 Networks. This Friday, Oct. 5, the second-ranked Huskies will be in Salt Lake City to face the Utes. The match starts at 7:30 p.m. Pacific time and is live across all Pac-12 Network regions. After a day off Saturday, UW will visit Boulder, Colo. for a 2 p.m. first serve on Sunday, a match specific to the Pac-12 Washington channel.
The Huskies climbed to a season-best No. 2 in the AVCA poll this week, tied with Oregon. Washington and Oregon are the nation's final two unbeaten teams, both with 13-0 overall records and 4-0 Pac-12 marks. However the regular season still has two full months, and in the marathon of the conference slate, every road match looms very large. Utah (9-8, 0-4 Pac-12) and Colorado (11-5, 1-3 Pac-12) both gave fits to the Bay Area schools in their last home matches before dropping both matches on road trips to the Oregon schools last week.
The dramatic victories over UCLA and USC last week resulted in a number of accolades for the Huskies, especially sophomore Krista Vansant, who Tuesday was named the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week, becoming the first Husky since 2008 to earn that honor. Her 31 kills against UCLA were the most by a Husky since Becky Perry in 2008, and most in the Pac-12 this year. She was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week while Amanda Gil was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week as well. For the two matches, Vansant hit a red-hot .424 while averaging 5.38 kills per set and 2.25 digs per set. Gil posted 1.75 blocks per set and is third in conference only matches in the Pac-12.
Also of interest this week was the release of the year's first official RPI rankings from the NCAA. Washington, despite being ranked in the top-25 all year, was in the 30s for much of 2011 according to the RPI, which factors heavily in the postseason selection process. This year the Huskies opened at No. 6 in the RPI, as the Pac-12 is faring much better this year than in 2011.
This is Washington's second trip to Salt Lake City and Boulder since Utah and Colorado joined the league last season. The Huskies won both road matches in straight sets last year, though sets two and three at Utah went to extra points. The Utes have been one of the top blocking teams since joining the Pac-12, and they currently lead the league with 3.17 blocks per set. Sophomore Bailey Bateman is leading the way with 1.50 blocks/set, second in the Pac-12. Utah ranks 10th with a .230 attack percentage.
The Buffaloes won their Pac-12 opener against Utah, and then took Cal to five sets at home before falling, so Colorado has definitely made strides in its second year in the league. Still, CU ranks 12th with a .216 attack percentage but has played solid defense, ranking fourth in opponent attack percentage at .169. Nikki Lindow is third in the league in blocks with 1.48 per set, and freshman setter Nicole Edelman is ninth with 9.24 assists per set.