Friday, November 20, 2015

College | It was an ugly volleyball match, but Washington will take it

Huskies find a way to win; DeHoog surgery ends her season
  • #2 Washington def. Oregon 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 29-27, 25-21)

Washington was tested, but found a way to hold off Oregon
-Volleyblog Seattle file photo by Leslie Hamann

It was a pretty poor call. Actually, a poor non-call.

In the second set, unranked Oregon led #2 ranked Washington 13-9, after winning the first set 25-19. During an extended rally, Oregon libero Amanda Benson shot an ugly set the width of the court. The Ducks got a kill, and Benson flashed an I-just-got-away-with-something expression. The Huskies now trailed by 5 and were hopping mad. Washington head coach Keegan Cook called a timeout.

“I told them we needed to be great on OUR side of the net,” said Cook. “It’s up to us to communicate with each other, and understand that we don’t expect to get any help from the refs or from Oregon.”

Sometimes pep talks work. The Huskies came out of the timeout and got a quick kill from Courtney Schwan. Schwan then stepped to the line and served 4 more points, including three block assists from Lianna Sybeldon. Time and again, Oregon’s serve receive struggles gave their setters few options, allowing Washington’s blockers to load on Duck pin hitters.

“Oregon was using a two-person serve receive,” said Cook. “We told our servers to find the seam.”

After a hitting error ending the streak, Crissy Jones connected off the block, sending Cassie Strickland to the line for another long service run. In the end, it was a 9-1 string, enough cushion for a set two Washington win.

In the third set, Washington trailed 20-16 when Schwan again got the kill, this time a nifty push off the block. A majority of Schwan’s 12 kills this night were off-speed. Rarely blocked but often dug, she finished with 44 attempts and 4 errors for a .182 average.

“Benson had a big night, 32 digs,” said Cook of Oregon’s libero. “And a couple of times, Courtney missed while trying to hit high hands. The tips and roll shots gave her confidence, which sometimes is what you have to do.”

Washington’s other outside, Tia Scambray, also struggled early (12 kills, 7 errors on 33 attempts, .152), but was studly down the stretch. As Washington’s passing improved, its pin hitters faced more and more solo block attempts, and Scambray did a great job tooling outside hands.

Even so, Oregon was in position to win the crucial third set, but threw it away with three consecutive service errors, allowing Washington to escape with a 29-27 win.

The Ducks—needing at least one more win in its final three matches to be tournament-eligible—kept it close in the fourth. With the score tied at 15, freshman Destiny Julye did something she’d been doing all night—coming in as a quick sub and getting a much-needed kill.

“Destiny can take a hard swing when we need it,” said Cook. On this night, he offered, she was the Huskies’ “super-sub.”

Cook could use Julye because Bailey Tanner had recovered from an illness, and was able to set in the back row and hit opposite in the right. That lineup saves substitutions, allowing Cook to insert Julye and defensive specialist Kim Condie in key situations. Both delivered, including a big serve ace by Condie.

In the end, the Huskies didn’t fold because they are arguably the most balanced team in the nation. They have two legitimate All-Americans in Sybeldon and libero Strickland, but don’t need either to dominate in order to win. Even so, it was Sybeldon and Strickland who provided the leadership and grit at the end of each of the final three sets, all wins. Sybeldon finished with an eye-popping 11 block assists and 1 solo block (plus 9 kills), while Strickland contributed 22 digs and countless moments of encouragement and inspiration.

“Great teams have to find a win ugly matches,” said Cook.

  • Cook confirmed that sophomore opposite Carly DeHoog had surgery today and is done for the season. It was earlier reported that DeHoog had injured an ankle during a practice session.
  • The Huskies won despite being outhit .236-.211, a rare occurrence for Washington. All other stats were close except one: UW outblocked the Ducks 15-8.
  • #1 USC maintained its one match lead over #2 Washington with a 3-1 over Arizona in Tucson. Samantha Bricio tallied 23 kills for the Trojans.
  • If you missed the match, you were not alone. Several Pac-12 volleyball matches this week and next have 4PM start times, including this one. The reason: men’s preseason basketball on the Pac-12 Network. For the past several seasons, the network has decided not to air several epic volleyball matches once the seemingly endless basketball season tiptoes in with nonconference play. In most cases, the basketball opponents are small conference cupcakes—volleyball had to vacate Matthew Knight Arena so the Duck men could host (*cough*) Savannah State (2014-15 RPI: 330). The 4PM volleyball start times are an improvement over no coverage at all, but barely. Frankly, sticking volleyball at the kids’ table during its all-important final two weeks of conference play is an insult to women athletes, especially given that volleyball is the one major collegiate team sport in which women are the main attraction (more than 1,000 schools offer women’s volleyball while just a handful offer men’s). Next week, UW has to play at Utah at 4PM, while USC’s seniors get their big sendoff in a 4PM Friday match against Cal. Insulting.


  1. The Husky website says that the Utah game is at 3.

    1. You're right. 4PM Mountain Time, 3PM Pacific. Thanks.

  2. Wow. "Senior Night" for USC will be at 4pm, like an after-school HS match? Yes the scheduling for TV has been a bit ridonkulous this season . . . then I repeat the phrase, 'scheduling for TV'. And all the games I can stream online.

    I disagree a bit about the team not needing Full-on Cassie to win . . . she was a little injured and/or had an off night at Palo Alto and it made the difference. Her contribution is huge, especially little stuff like her mad beach digs or the money bump sets she puts up out of system.

    Speaking of beach....anyone notice that when the gals get out of system, they convert from looking like an indoor team "just trying to get it over" and play like beach players? Interesting how the sand guys like Dodd and Wong don't call 'em on it. Holly McPeak spoke right up when she saw Courtney's "beach mom" roll shot, that was hilarious. I'm thinking working with Cook in the Sand during the spring has paid huge dividends.

    1. We have to agree. One of the biggest upgrades in Washington's system this year has been its ability to send back challenging free balls ... a glaring weakness before Keegan Cook took over. Many schools have little or no overlap between their sand and indoor teams. Washington may head that way someday, but for now, sand skills on the indoor court may, indeed, be a benefit. Great observation.

  3. Watched my DVR recording. In the first point of the second set the Oregon setter came from the back row to accept the serve receive pass. She jumped a little and went up with her right hand and touched the ball over the net for a kill. Was that an illegal back row attack. No one said anything on TV.

  4. Year in and year out the Dawgs have a great volleyball team yet they get no respect from the local media (other than you guys) and the game as a whole gets nothing from the Pac-12 schedulers when hoops comes along. I'd rather stick hot pokers in my eyes than watch pre-season hoops.

    Maybe they'll get a mention on local news when they win the national championship again. Go Dawgs!


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