Friday, October 21, 2011

How did Washington beat Oregon State?

CORVALLIS—The third set score was 12-2, in favor of Oregon State. Although the Washington Huskies were down, they weren’t really down. They know down.
Down is when a teammate loses a loved one. It happened last season to Becky Perry. And it happened earlier this week to setter Jenni Nogueras.
“Her dad had been sick,” said Washington coach Jim McLaughlin. “Last weekend, he took a turn for the worse. She needed to be home (in Puerto Rico) for her family.”
Just before Jenni’s plane touched down in San Juan, pancreatic cancer claimed the life of her father, Juan Nogueras.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family,” McLaughlin said.
“We met as a team to talk about it,” said junior Kelcey Dunaway. “We want her to know we’re here whenever she needs us.”
Washington's Gabbi Parker cheers a kill against Oregon State
[Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann]
Nogueras’ absence removed any mystery about whether McLaughlin would continue using the surprising two-setter system he inserted last week in the Bay Area. The 6/2, as it is known, was not a huge success against either Cal or Stanford.
Against Oregon State, the old 5/1 lineup worked to near-perfection in the first set, as the Huskies tallied 12 kills and just one error (.367) en route to a 25-14 cakewalk.
But the second set was tighter, as OSU libero Becky Defoe (24 digs on the night) shut down the cross-court attacks by Kylin Muñoz and Krista Vansant.
Krista Vansant (16) and Kelcey Dunaway (2)
[Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann]
“A lot of Pac-12 liberos play in the left back corner,” said Vansant. “I just have to learn to adjust.”
With OSU trailing just 15-16, Vansant’s adjustments paid off. She aimed several kills down the line and toward middle back. At 19-15, she made a big time dig, scrambled to transition, and was thrilled to get an Evan Sanders set for a powerful kill.
“It’s good that Evan has that confidence in me,” Vansant said. “I really yelled for that ball.”
On the very next play, Vansant and Lauren Barfield put up a big termination block. But as Barfield came down, her left ankle landed awkwardly. She grabbed her shin, spat out a few choice words, and waited for the trainer to help her hobble of the court.
It could have been a big blow. Barfield had been a blocking machine; she had nine block assists when she went down. But Dunaway stepped in, eager to play.
“Our team believes in our depth,” Dunaway said. “All week in practice, we (middle blockers) have been competing in a quick hitting drill.”
Sure enough, after another Vansant kill, the next two Washington points were Dunaway kills, both on quick hits. The Huskies went into the break up 2-0.
But the third set started ugly. Spurred by Camille Saxton’s powerful jump serve, the Beavers went on that 21-2 tear.
“We didn’t stay on task,” said McLaughlin. “We drifted away from out routines; we have to have the ability to stay the course no matter what the score.”
Lauren Barfield goes down after injuring her ankle; teammate Evan Sanders checks her condition
[Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann]
In attempt to shake things up, McLaughlin inserted Oregon native Gabbi Parker for Vansant, much to the delight of Parker’s sizeable cheering section. Then Muñoz found a rhythm that had been missing most of the night.
“Kylin started hitting shots,” said McLaughlin, “but she’s got to hit them start to finish.
The Huskies began to roll. Bianca Rowland—still out of sync with Sanders—hit a slide. Parker hit a strong kill down the line, prompting an angry outburst from OSU coach Terry Liskevych, who drew a yellow card (for complaining that the Huskies had four touches on the play.) With Washington still trailing 9-14, Vansant was reinserted.

"Krista doesn't like sitting on the bench," McLaughlin said.

"No, I don't," Vansant agreed.

Vansant was unstoppable. She hit line for a kill, cross for a kill, then straight down from the right side for another kill. Washington scored six consecutive points on her serve, and the Huskies never looked back. UW scored 23 of the match’s final 29 points.
Afterwards, Barfield insisted she’ll be fine. And the team insisted that when Nogueras returns, they’ll do all they can to help her heal, too. 

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