Friday, October 4, 2013

Pac-12 | #1 Washington volleyball falls to Colorado

Sybeldon excels, but poor passing dooms Huskies in Boulder; USC the only undefeated Pac-12 team in conference play
  • Colorado def. #1 Washington 3-1 (25-17, 25-23, 15-25, 25-19)
  • next: #1 Washington @ Utah | October 5 | 6PM (Pacific) | Pac-12 Network

Following the inglorious lead of Texas, Penn State and USC, Washington became the fourth #1 team this season to suffer an unexpected loss soon after climbing to the top of the polls. In a sloppy match featuring a breakdown of basics, the Huskies lost 3-1 to Colorado (25-17, 25-23, 15-25, 25-19).
Colorado celebrates match point against #1 Washington
-photo from Pac-12 Networks
Washington started weakly as the Huskies’ uncharacteristic poor passing allowed Colorado to defend outside attacks. As passing improved, the Huskies’ middles—Melanie Wade and Lianna Sybeldon—shouldered the load, each hitting .400 for the set. The rest of the team hit minus .042, as Colorado cruised 25-17.

The pattern continued in the second set, with the middles hitting .286 and the rest of UW just .125. Colorado’s block got a hand or stuff on most of the Huskies’ outside sets, all but shutting down Kylin Muñoz on the right and Krista Vansant and Gabbi Parker on the left. Washington’s hitters responded with largely-ineffective tips and began sailing attacks long and wide. Tied at 23, Washington was low on substitutions, forcing Kaleigh Nelson to play the back row. Nelson passed a ball into the net to make it 23-24, and Colorado closed it with a kill after an ineffective Parker attack.

Colorado committed a string of unforced errors to start the third set. Sybeldon remained hot, and libero Jenna Orlandini kept longer rallies alive with several key digs. Washington coach Jim McLaughlin saved substitutions by keeping Strickland in the match, but the 5-8 hitter struggled at the service line (4 errors, no aces) and passed below her usual standards. Still, the Buffs bailed out the Huskies with poor hitting, and Strickland pulled the string on her jump serve, allowing UW to grab a 25-15 win.

The Huskies fell behind early in the fourth, but pulled back as McLaughlin inserted Parker at middle for Wade. Tied at 8, Colorado went on a run, slowed only by three crucial service errors. Behind the serving of Jennie Nogueras, UW pulled within 17-19, but could get no closer. Colorado feasted on quick sets to the pins, pounding attack after attack on Washington’s late-forming block.

Sybeldon was the clear standout for Washington, finishing with 12 kills and just 1 error on 25 swings (.440). Vansant also had 12 kills, but was blocked all night, hitting a mere .111 on 36 kills. Muñoz was not a factor all night, finishing with a negative attack (-.095).

No one likes to lose—least of all McLaughlin. But, as most coaches know, ugly losses can help expose areas that need work. After Saturday’s match in Utah, expect the Huskies to do plenty of work in the week ahead.

  • For the second week in a row, viewers on the Pac-12 Networks missed much of the first set of a Washington match. The start of both the Washington State and Colorado matches were pre-empted by televised overtime soccer matches. Fortunately for volleyball fans, Stanford’s Taylor Uhl scored with 9 seconds remaining in the first overtime against Arizona to allow the network to switch to Boulder.
  • Washington’s loss leaves only three undefeated teams in Division 1. Tonight, Missouri (17-0) swept Auburn, and North Carolina (14-0) swept Syracuse. Thursday night, Colorado State (13-0) beat Nevada 3-1.
  • In the night's marquee match, #2 USC swept #7 Stanford 3-0, coming back from 8 down in the third set. After playing just two matches, USC is now the only undefeated team in the Pac-12.
  • Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Arizona handed #21 Oregon yet another loss, 3-1. #15 Arizona State breezed past Oregon State, while WSU fought back from an 0-2 hole but lost to Utah 3-2. UCLA is now 0-4 in the Pac-12 after losing at home to California.
  • Two mild upsets in the Big Ten as #10 Nebraska swept #8 Minnesota in Lincoln and (24) Purdue swept (12) Ohio State in West Lafayette.


  1. Can volleyball opt out of the pac12 network and go back to sane scheduling?


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