The Washington State volleyball team (10-3) came close but could not overcome No. 5 Washington (10-0) in the opening match of Pac-12 play Tuesday night at Alaska Airlines Arena. Washington won on its home court with scores of 25-20, 27-29, 25-14, and 27-25.
WSU was led by the Jaicee Harris’s 19 kills and 10 digs while Rachel Todorovich landed a career-high 17 kills. Ver’Leea Hardaway had six blocks and Stephanie Logan added eight kills and four blocks. Setter Camryn Irwin put up 47 assists and Kate Sommer dug up 19 balls and served two aces. WSU hit .177 for the match as UW hit .295 but the Huskies tallied 15 blocks to WSU’s 9.
UW’s Kaleigh Nelson and Krista Vansant combined for 32 kills and Gabbi Parker added 10 more. Vansant, Parker and Jenna Orlandini combined for 36 of UW’s 58 digs. Setters Jenni Nogueras and Katy Beals had 29 and 23 assists, respectively. Amanda Gil led the match with eight blocks while Kylin Munoz added seven blocks.
“I’m proud of the way we came out and fought. They are a great team but we made errors at the wrong times,” Cougar Head Coach Jen Greeny said. “They are such a (physically) big team and a great blocking team so when we couldn’t pass and were out of system that made it really tough for our hitters. Once we could get our middles going we were great but our passing broke down and it was definitely streaky. We’re going to be facing tougher teams that serve like that so we’re going to have to work that out. Eleven missed serves is not like us and we haven’t done that all season. If we can clean up those little things on our unforced errors I think we’ll be okay.”
The Huskies and Cougars were tied 10 times in the opening set with Todorovich providing five kills for the visitors. UW advanced from a tie at 18-all by scoring a trio of points with an ace from Beals and a kill and a block from Gil. Logan and Glab scored on kills but two of the Cougars’ five errant serves in the set came at an inopportune time and WSU was down 23-20. Vansant landed an attack and combined with Munoz to give Washington the 25-20 win.
The second set had 14 ties before WSU battled to take the 29-27 victory. The Cougars took an early 14-10 lead in this set behind the strong blocking that the national-leading WSU has provided this season. UW used two different three-point runs to go ahead 22-20. UW was serving for the set at 24-23 when Harris slammed home a cross court attack to tie at 24. The teams traded points from Nelson and Logan to knot the score at 25. Harris again put WSU in the lead but Parker’s kill tied the score at 26. UW served into the net and WSU took the 27-26 lead. It took Gil, Munoz and Vansant on a block to tie up the set at 27. The left-handed Todorovich powered through with back-to-back kills and WSU won 29-27.
The Dawgs came out with a vengeance in the third set and took an 8-1 lead. Behind a .448 hitting percentage and six team blocks, UW grabbed the 25-14 win, holding WSU to a zero hitting percentage and no blocks in this set.
For most of the fourth set it was the Cougars on top or a tied score until UW took the lead at 20-19. WSU fought back to tie the set at 22. Vansant’s kill put the Huskies at 23 and WSU took a timeout. Parker’s attack went long and the set was tied at 23. Nelson followed with another attack that missed the court, giving WSU the 24-23 lead. Nelson’s block knotted the score at 24. Harris’ cross court kill put WSU serving for set but the Huskies scored twice and went up 26-25. Gil’s block ended the set at 27-25 and the match, 3-1.
WSU travels to Tempe to take on Arizona State (11-3) Friday, Sept. 21 in a 6 p.m. televised match on the Pac-12 TV Networks.