Saturday, October 3, 2015

College | Washington volleyball meets its Destiny in win at UCLA

Huskies freshman steps in when Courtney Schwan goes down 
  • #5 Washington def. #11 UCLA 3-0 (31-29, 25-16, 25-15) 
  • Sun, Oct 4 | 1:00PM | #5 Washington @ #2 USC 

Washington freshman Destiny Julye (R) and her teammates defeated UCLA 3-0 in Los Angeles
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

LOS ANGELES--It was first set, and Washington led UCLA 21-22. Sophomore outside hitter Courtney Schwan—the Huskies best pin hitter this season—had already slipped in three roll shots for kills, and attempted another. This one was dug, and the Bruins won the point on a slide to tie the score at 22. 

But Schwan was unexpectedly finished for the night. At the end of the rally, she injured her left ankle, and had to be helped to the bench. Suddenly, the Huskies seemed in big trouble. 

In the huddle, libero Cassie Strickland turned to her teammates and said, "It doesn't matter who's on the court. We are Washington, and we fight hard right now." Her fellow senior, middle Lianna Sybledon said, "Let's do it for Courtney." 

On the bench, Washington's only freshman felt the heat of hundreds of eyes in Pauley Pavilion. Destiny Julye, a Southern California girl, was coach Keegan Cooke's only option to replace Schwan. 

Washington's Courtney Schwan (4) is comforted by teammate Crissy Jones as Schwan's ankle gets initial evaluation.
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

Julye felt pressure even before the match began. Warming up, a contingent of almost 100 supporters cheered with every practice attack, and moaned with every miss. 62 of those fans were players and parents from Tehachapi High, 100 miles north and a two hour bus ride away. Their coach, Sheri Deeswanted her players to see what the next level looks like, especially the size and speed of the college game. 

"Destiny looks quicker and stronger," said Dees, who had not talked with her team about the very real possibility that Julye would not play. "I wanted them to support and cheer all of Destiny's teammates," she said. 

But there she was, the set on the line, expected to carry her share of the load. Her first few attacks were tentative, but at 23-23, she stuffed UCLA's Reily Buechler and sent the sizeable purple contingent into a brief frenzy.  

"I was nervous," she admitted later, "but my coaches and teammates told me to go in and do what we do in practice." 

The Bruins tied the score at 24, then both teams played the set of the season so far. Both served tough, both passed nails, both swung hard, both dug impossible balls. "We told our hitters, swing away," said Cook. "I told them they were in a position to write their own story. 

In all, each team overcame three set points, until—with UW leading 30-29—the final kill of the set went to Julye. 

Washington's Crissy Jones celebrates a point against UCLA
-Volleyblog Seattle photo by Leslie Hamann

Sets two and three were also won by Washington, but in far less dramatic fashion, although Julye also had the final kill in the second frame. This was Washington's first match of the season against a ranked team, and a chance to win in a venue where they have sometimes struggled. There was plenty to like, but a few real keys to the match: 

Washington's senior middle blocker is showing All-American form, and was the key to the Huskies' offense. Because her teammates passed and dug so well, setters Bailey Tanner and Katy Beals went to Sybeldon early and often, good for 13 total kills.  

The key point of the entire match may have been at 24-24 in the first set. Sybeldon clobbered a Tanner quick set, only to see the Bruins turn a spectacular dig. Moments later, Tanner set another quick, with the same result. In a decision as rare as any you'll see in college volleyball, Tanner went back to Sybeldon for a third quick, and this time it hit the Bruins' side of the court. 

"I was grateful that Bailey gave me three shots in a row," said Sybeldon. I wanted to put it away. 

From its formidable block (outblocking the Bruins 17-8 for the match) to its relentless scrambling (61 digs in just three sets), the Huskies frustrated UCLA's hitters at every turn. Tia Scambray was credited with 5 block assists, but 3 were actually solo stuffs of much taller Bruin Hayley Lawless Strickland had 19 digs, but Scambray was equally tough with 12, as was Tanner with 11 digs. The Huskies out-hit the Bruins .225 to .070. 

"Everyone's been working their butt off in practice to play defense and dig more balls, and all our hard work showed tonight," said Strickland, who credits the team's time on sand courts for its splashier defensive skills. 

Besides Julye, two other bench players—both senior defensive specialists—came up big in the crucial first set. Kim Condie and Justice Magraw each took turns making big serves and crucial defensive plays, including a Condie ace and a Magraw pancake dig. As UW ran out of subs during the extended first set, players played out of position without missing a beat. 

Washington setter Katy Beals (L) and Justice Magraw are all smiles after a narrow first set win.
-Volleyblog Seattle by Leslie Hamann

  • After the match, Cook said Schwan's injury will be evaluated before he can determine when she might next be available. Schwan was on crutches but in a good mood, considering. 
  • Washington fans filled several rows of Pauley Pavilion. Nine Huskies went to high school in California, and folks wearing purple often cheered longer and louder than the home blue and gold. 
  • Stanford fell to 1-2 in conference play for the first time in what seems like forever when the Cardinal lost 3-1 in Tempe to undefeated Arizona State. 
  • If Seattle fans ever needed a reason to tape a Seahawks' game for later viewing, it will be Sunday at 1PM when undefeated Washington takes on undefeated USC at Galen Center.  


  1. Great read, Jack! We are looking forward to the USC match on Sunday. Fortunately, the Seahawks are playing on Monday night :)

  2. Seahawks play Monday night so there is no conflict for this fan of both teams to watch the match at 1 p.m. I was following the action on Twitter at the M's game last night.

    1. We goofed on this week's NFL schedule ... not much attention paid to football in LA ...

  3. Any update on how Courtney is doing?

  4. Stanford is 2 and 2 in conference

  5. Stanford is 2 and 2 in conference not the 1 and 2 you have in your article. They were 2 and 1, then lost to Arizona State for their second lost.


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