Washington opens Pac-12 volleyball play with sweep of Washington State

One match into convention play, the University of Washington volleyball workforce is already forward of the curve. 

In every of the final two seasons, the Huskies misplaced their Pac-12 opener earlier than occurring to win the convention title. On Wednesday, the Huskies kicked off league play in a brand new and promising style — a sweep at dwelling over Washington State 25-15, 25-14, and 25-22. 

UW began the 2020 season with a 3-0 loss to Arizona State, earlier than occurring to make it to the Final Four. Last season, the Huskies began league play with a 3-2 dwelling loss to Utah earlier than falling to Texas within the Sweet 16. 

While the Huskies proved the final two seasons that they’ve the grit to beat an early convention loss, it isn’t essentially a requirement on the trail to the Pac-12 crown. 

“After the game, we kind of said ‘We don’t need to lose the game to show to ourselves, to fire us up or however we thought about it in years past,” fifth-year senior Claire Hoffman mentioned. “We don’t need that, we know what we can do and we know what we are capable of.”

In entrance of a loud and enthusiastic dwelling crowd, Washington dominated WSU for a lot of the match. 

The Huskies roared out to an 8-3 lead in set one thanks to a few early kills from Hoffman, however the Cougars fought again to drag inside two at 11-9. UW responded by scoring 10 of the subsequent 12 factors en path to the set win.

The Cougars made issues fascinating within the remaining body, buying and selling factors with UW and pulling inside one level seven instances. WSU scored its remaining level on a service error by UW’s Kate Morin to place the rating at 23-22, however back-to-back kills from Hoffman and fifth-year senior Marin Grote gave Washington the 25 factors it wanted to finalize its Apple Cup victory. 

“Outstanding execution from our group from start to finish,” Huskies coach Keegan Cook mentioned. “I thought Washington State responded in the third set pretty well, but we made some errors. Great environment, and I like the message that it sends to the rest of the conference that we are here to compete again, despite what people think we may or may not be at this point.”

Washington began the season ranked No. 8 within the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Poll, and now sits at No. 18 with a 9-2 file. Conference rival Oregon is ranked No. 21, whereas Stanford is available in at No. 5.

“I think a lot of people underrated us, just because we are not as flashy as other teams,” UW sophomore Emoni Bush mentioned. “But a lot of things we focus on is just ‘good after good;’ and playing our way, and we don’t let any outside opinions affect that.”

Bush completed the match with 13 kills, whereas Hoffman led the squad with 18, and Grote had 9. 

WSU center blocker Magda Jehlarova, a two-time All-American who led the Pac-12 with 168 whole blocks final 12 months and completed seventh within the convention with a .353 hitting proportion, had three blocks and 5 kills. 

Washington completed with a workforce hitting proportion of .412, whereas WSU completed at .146.

“I think we played the Washington way,” Hoffman mentioned. “We hit clean, we hit high, we hit hard. That’s how we want to do it.”

Their newest win was essential, however the Huskies have even greater matches on their minds. With Pac-12 play kicking off, the crowds are going to get greater, the gyms are going to get louder and the video games are going to get much more intense. 

It’s precisely the ambiance the Huskies need. After falling in need of their nationwide title objectives the previous a number of years, UW has championship goals to chase. 

“This group wants to be seen,” Cook mentioned. “They’ve put in a lot of hours here for this university. … I think this team has something to prove right now, based on where we sit in the national scene. We’ve going to have to show up every night.”

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