Husky volleyball picks up eighth straight win
Kaleigh Nelson and Krista Vansant spark UW to 3-1 victory over Utah.
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Another dogfight, another tough and rewarding win for the third-ranked Washington volleyball team.
Leaning on two junior outside hitters, Kaleigh Nelson (with a career-high 20 kills) and Krista Vansant (finishing with 22, one shy of her season high), the Huskies outbattled Utah, a tall, tenacious opponent, for a 3-1 victory, their eighth straight, in front of 2,115 Friday night at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Washington (18-1, 10-1 Pac-12), after beating two top-10 opponents (USC and Stanford) in its previous three matches, has not managed a sweep in its last four contests as Utah (17-6, 6-5), tied for the top spot in blocks in the league, put up a serious fight before falling 25-16, 22-25, 26-24, 25-22.
“They outhit us (.270 to .246, committing eight fewer errors than UW), they outblocked us (9.5-7) and they outdug us (64-63),” said UW coach Jim McLaughlin. “We outserved them (seven aces to Utah’s five, with just six service errors to the Utes 11). At the end of each set we served tough.”
After cruising through the first set, the Huskies let an 18-16 lead slip away in the second set when Utahs Lea Adolph posted back-to-back aces on a 4-0 run.
UW trailed 21-19 in the momentum-shifting third set when Nelson recorded three kills as part of a 7-3 closing sprint highlighted by a series of eye-popping digs by Jenna Orlandini. UW finished off the set with a pair of Kylin Munoz kills and, finally, a block by Lianna Sybeldon and Vansant on 6-foot-3 Erin Redd-Brandon, the Pac-12’s top blocker.
“You know there’s going to be ebbs and flows,” said Orlandini, who had a match-high 17 digs. In game three, it was a battle. If you keep putting pressure on them, they’re going to break. I think our defense did a really good job of that. It’s a matter of who can do the tough things longer.”
Nelson and Vansant each had seven kills apiece in the third and fourth sets. Nelson hit .357 (20 kills and five errors on 42 attacks).
“I love being a go-to,” Nelson said. “My arm’s a little sore, but I’ll bounce right back.”
Nelson added: “Utah had won four of its previous five matches. They have a good block. They’re a great team, but we just kept pushing and pushing, putting pressure on them, and in the end, obviously it was enough.”