Friday the 13th not unlucky as Huskies knock Kansas off its game
[12/14/13 | 2PM | Report corrected to reflect that Katy Beals was on the front line during the final match point]
Golfers take a bucket of balls and practice their tee shots. Basketball players stand at the charity stripe and practice free throws. Baseball players take swing after swing in the batting cage.
So, too, volleyball players stand 30 feet from the net and serve endless balls to the opposite court. In a Sweet 16 3-0 win in Los Angeles against 14th seed Kansas, 3rd seed Washington showed that all its practice paid off.
The Huskies have been one of the nation’s best serving teams all season. Last week against LSU, however, serving stats were unbalanced, with few points off serve when setter Katy Beals was on the court.
But against the Jayhawks, UW’s serve was strong throughout the rotation, nowhere more so than when Beals herself was at the line. Every Huskies server kept Kansas on its heels, severely limiting All-Big-12 setter Erin McNorton’s ability to go to her team’s strength, the middles. Driven time and again by passes to the net, McNorton was unable to fool Washington’s front line, as UW dominated 9 blocks to 4. Led by Krista Vansant’s 10 kills, Washington out-hit Kansas .240 to .082. Lianna Sybeldon had a stellar night, hitting .500 (8 kills, 1 error on 14 swings), flourishing with the kind of quick attack that Kansas had hoped to run itself.
The match had an odd ending. The third set was close throughout, but a Beals ace gave Washington a 21-20 lead. With Jenna Orlandini serving at 24-23, Vansant had the last touch on what the television replay showed to be a clean joust, but the officials called a do-over. On the next rally, Kylin Muñoz’ apparent redirect for a kill was ruled interference, although the replay again seemed to show otherwise.
A Melanie Wade kill brought it to a third match point, but UW had run through its substitutions. That moved setter
Nogueras Katy Beals to the front row, and Muñoz to the service line—for only her 13th
serve of the season. But on Friday the 13th, serve #13 was not
unlucky, as Wade ended a short rally for the final kill of the match.
Washington earned the chance to wait out the results of the BYU/USC match, and to prepare for Saturday’s chance to punch a ticket back home, where the Final Four will be hosted December 19 & 21 in Key Arena. You can bet that a big part of Saturday’s practice, as always, will focus on serving.