Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pac-12 | Washington’s Willamette Valley watch list

#2 Washington @ Oregon State | October 12 | 7PM [no TV, no web stream]
#2 Washington @ #5 Oregon | October 13 | 7PM [no TV;
free web stream via]

Last night, we watched #4 Stanford demolish #6 USC 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-18). Some lessons from that contest might apply to this weekend’s big matches in Oregon.

Washington's Krista Vansant
-Volleyblog Seattle photo
by Leslie Hamann

Against Stanford, USC’s serve was surprisingly weak. The Cardinal had no trouble getting the ball to setters Karissa Cook and Madi Bugg, allowing Stanford to dish out a stream of slides and combinations. Frankly, Stanford’s serving wasn’t all that impressive either, but USC’s passing was a cut below, forcing setter Hayley Crone to toss up sky-high sets that the Cardinal converted to 13 blocks.

This weekend, Washington’s ability to maintain its strong serve will be key, especially against the Ducks. And props to Krista Vansant, who seems to be opponents’ serving target 75% of the time; she’s quietly eased Huskies fans’ anxiety about the loss of smooth-passing Summer Ross.


When USC’s outside attack was shut down (reigning national Player of the Week freshman Samantha Bricio hit minus .043 on 47 attempts), the Trojans had no Plan B (right-side hitter Katie Fuller hit minus .038 on 26 swings.)

Oregon’s Alaina Bergsma—a sure bet as a first-team All-American—hits on the right side, and will line up against Vansant, another slam-dunk first-team All-American. If either gains a decided advantage, the winning team may be the one that can effectively find other options. If the Huskies need a boost, will Gabbi Parker see more front-row time? If they need more offense in the middle, will Lianna Sybeldon get a shot?

None of this, by the way, is meant to overlook Friday’s opponent, Oregon State. The Beavers beat Penn State, after all, although last week’s loss to struggling California exposed some weaknesses. OSU has an impressive RPI of 27 (Washington is 6, Oregon is 7). And several Beavers have been named Conference Player of the Week, led by dangerous Canadian Camille Saxton (260 kills; Vansant has 207; Bergsma 216).

Washington beats the Beavers 3-1. Huskies/Ducks is a tossup: could go five, could depend on which OH has rotated to the front row. Lingering question: Has Oregon had time to erase last week’s Stanford collapse from its psyche?

Both schools are expecting good crowds. OSU is promoting Spike Out Cancer Night, and Oregon is reducing ticket prices in an effort to draw a crowd approaching, they hope, 7,000. (see: Headed to Oregon? Here’s the scoop)
Neither match will be broadcast on television (see: Football bounces volleyball’s biggest match of the season). Oregon will provide a free web stream, with student announcers, at

WRITTEN BY Jack Hamann | PHOTOS BY Leslie Hamann

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