Monday, October 5, 2015

College | In battle of unbeatens, Washington volleyball loses round one to USC

Destiny Julye has another big night, but it's not enough to overcome Samantha Bricio's 27 kills 
#2 USC def. #5 Washington 3-1 (25-16, 22-25, 25-21, 33-31) 
  • Wed, Oct 7 | 7:30PM | #14 Arizona @ #5 Washington 
  • Fri, Oct 9 | 7:00PM | #6 Arizona St @ #5 Washington 

Washington's Destiny Julye gets one of her 15 kills against USC's block
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

LOS ANGELES—In Mick Haley's opinion, Keegan Cook was gutsy. 

USC's legendary head coach was impressed when Washington's first-year coach scrambled his first set lineup at Galen Center Sunday afternoon. With his leading hitter, Courtney Schwan, sidelined after her ankle was injured during Friday's 3-0 victory at UCLA, Cook tried something new. He moved Crissy Jones from opposite to outside, and had Bailey Tanner hit opposite in the front row and set in the back row. "He (Cook) did something that probably most coaches wouldn't do," said Haley, admiringly.  

But the decision was a disaster. Jones struggled mightly in that first set—1 kill and 2 errors on 14 swings—as USC blew past UW 25-16. And so, as the second set began, Cook returned Jones to her usual opposite position, and inserted freshman Destiny Julye on the outside.  

Even more than she did Friday when she replaced the injured SchwanJulye made an immediate impact. She recorded 6 kills and an big stuff block to lead Washington to a 25-22 second set win"Keegan was very smart to go back to something more familiar to his players so they could play freely," said Haley.  
"I just told her to hit high and hit hard," said Cook. "She was really swinging." 

Washington's Cassie Strickland celebrates a point against USC
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
Facing undefeated USC--now the nation's number one team--on the Trojans' home court, Washington had much to be pleased about. Lianna Sybeldon had another strong match, tallying 10 kills, most with authority. Cassie Strickland was again alert and physical on defense, leading by example with 15 digs while exhorting her teammates to cover blocks with amazing success. Tanner was an effective hitter and an even better setter. 

But the USC match offered evidence of where Washington has room to improve. Serving and passing—both Huskies trademarks—were off their usual standards. In part, the Huskies tried to serve Samantha Bricio as much as possible, with mixed results. Although Bricio seemed to tire in the first set, she caught her second wind after the break, something Haley credits to Bricio's offseason weight training.

USC's Samantha Bricio had 27 kills and 3 service aces against Washington
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann
Sybeldon and Melanie Wade, UW's outstanding middles, needed to be more involved in the offense as both Jones and Tia Scambray had sub-par performances. Cook said that Wade, in particular, should have gotten more than 14 sets. 

Last season's 2014 team had few weaknesses, but in pressure situations, last year's hitters had a tendency to send across too-easy tips and roll shots when sets weren't perfect. Against USC Sunday, that same problem stepped in, as the Huskies seemed reluctant to try to tool blocks or hit high hands down the stretch. 

Except for Julye. The 5-11 freshman continued to blast away in the third and fourth set, eventually earning a team-high 15 kills. Even during one bad stretch in the fourth, she kept hitting hard, eventually landing more winners. Many were line shots off the block. "Julye really went off," Haley marveled. "She's really got to be tickled with her performance." 

Washington's Lianna Sybeldon tips over the USC block attempt
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann 
The fourth set brought full-throated roars from a USC crowd mixed with plenty of purple. A Julye kill tied it at 22; another Julye kill knotted it at 23. A barely-in Jones cross-court made it 26-26; and a Wade line-scraping slide brought it to 27-all. Trailing 29-30, Sybeldon sealed two consecutive blocks, first on Bricio and then on Alicia Ogoms. 

But the final three points went USC's way, on Bricio's 27th kill followed by two consecutive UW hitting errors. It handed Cook his first-ever loss as a head coach, and forces him to figure a way to extract lessons from defeat. Great teams, he said after the match, learn from adversity. Washington has plenty of potential adversity ahead, starting with undefeated Arizona State Friday night in Alaska Airlines Arena. 

And then there's USC. The Trojans will be in Seattle at the end of the month.   

  • Courtney Schwan remained on crutches. She says her left ankle would be fully evaluated on her return to Seattle. 
  • Only three teams remain undefeated in Division 1: USC, Arizona State and Kansas. Nebraska knocked off #1 Penn State in five sets Friday. On Sunday, Nebraska lost in five to Ohio State. 
  • The US Women's National Team won the NORCECA tournament in Mexico, and will play for the North American slot at the Rio Olympics at a separate NORCECA tournament in January. 


  1. Great summary. Both teams played hard, but receive errors were just too much, and Bricio was awesome, she has really upped her game from years past. Lots of us UW fans there, but never really got into it as a group. Next up though is zona on wednesday, then asu. In the grand scheme of things, the loss was more for prestige and rankings. We get them at Hec Ed at end of month. Need to win both this week at home first.

  2. Bricio already has her name engraved on the Pac-12 MVP trophy. Great to see the Dawgs playing at this high level as a team. Our #1 hitter goes down and we still play USC tough.. turn the tables and have Bricio go down, they are done and done. Our ladies need to work hard on passing drills, far too many bad passes and over passes.

  3. I think Julye's destiny is to become a UW favorite. What a great freshman!

  4. What's the latest on Courtney Schwan's injury?

    1. I'm hoping we see her tomorrow night

    2. With Destiny playing so well it will be interesting to see how this story plays out. Given that OSU has an RPI of 145 Cook will have plenty of opportunity to give Courtney some swings even if she is not at 100%.


[It's okay to comment as "Anonymous," but please feel free to share your name and/or alias.]

Have your friends discovered Volleyblog Seattle? Number of unique visits: