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Sunday, November 18, 2012 - Page updated at 04:30 p.m.
Huskies volleyballers rally past Oregon
By Terry Wood
Special to The Seattle Times
Nothing short of amazing.
Already missing leading scorer Krista Vansant, who went down with an ankle injury in the fourth set, the sixth-ranked Washington volleyball team survived an astonishing 12 match points in a wild fifth set to outlast No. 4 Oregon 3-2 in a Pac-12 battle royale Friday night in front of a frenzied crowd of 4,136 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Kylin Munoz stepped up to lead the Huskies (21-5, 12-5 Pac-12) with 17 kills, aided mightily by sophomore Kaleigh Nelson and 5-foot-8 freshman Cassie Strickland with 14 kills apiece in the heart-clutching 26-24, 16-25, 21-25, 32-30, 25-23 win.
"I don't know if I've been a part of a match like that at Hec Ed, but it was fun," coach Jim McLaughlin said. "It's a match I'll remember, and so will they."
The Huskies were down 2-1 and trailing in the fourth set by a point when Vansant, UW's leader in kills, went down with a left-ankle sprain, severe enough that she had to be assisted off the court.
Enter junior Gabbi Parker, who responded with nine kills and just one error on 26 off-the-bench swings for a .308 hitting percentage.
"Big time," McLaughlin said of Parker's play. "She came in during a tough situation and responded. I learned a lot about her tonight."
To reach the hard-to-believe fifth set, the Huskies had to get through the fourth. They led 21-17 but the Ducks, led by senior Alaina Bergsma (31 kills, seventh in the country in kills per set) and junior Liz Brenner (22), survived four set points, then had two match points of their own.
Kills by Munoz and Nelson snuffed out those threats, and kills by Strickland and Nelson finally closed out the set 32-30.
The fifth set was a madhouse, with UW facing its first match point at 14-11. Two Oregon errors and a Kelcey Dunaway block/Nelson block evened the match at 14, and then the two teams went at each other toe to toe.
"We haven't had a match like this in a couple of years, and you need it. It's nice to pull it off," McLaughlin said.
The Huskies host Oregon State on Saturday night at 7.
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