Huskies Drop Regular Season Finale In Five Sets

Nov. 27, 2009

SEATTLE - Washington was one point away from taking a 3-1 win and a share of the Pac-10 title tonight at Bank of America Arena, but the 18th-ranked Oregon Ducks stayed alive, forced a fifth set, and eventually won a marathon match 15-25, 21-25, 25-23, 31-29, 15-13 to bring a sour end to UW's Senior Night. The Huskies (23-5, 13-5 Pac-10) will settle for second-place in the final league standings, a game behind Stanford.

Washington outhit the Ducks (18-9, 9-9 Pac-10) .301-.267 on the night, and 15.5 blocks to just 6.0 for Oregon, but the Ducks had 92 digs to 81 for the Huskies and outaced the Dawgs, 5-2. In the fourth set, Washington had match points on three occasions, up 25-24, 26-25, and 27-26, but could not get the final swing to end it.

'I told (the team) I was proud of them and they worked hard,' head coach Jim McLaughlin said. 'We just have to understand when it's a tight game and the opponent's playing well, the margin of error is so thin. We've got to do what we're supposed to do, every play, every day. This match is not going to impact the tournament and so now we've got to get over it that's the important thing and get ready to make a run in this tournament.'

The Huskies will now look towards the NCAA Championships, and await their fate this coming Sunday, at 12 noon, when the brackets are unveiled on ESPNews. If Washington is selected to host first and second round matches, they would take place on December 3 and 4. UW will hope to host and give its three seniors--Airial Salvo, Jill Collymore, and Tamari Miyashiro--another match on their home court.

Washington's offensive numbers were superlative. Junior Kindra Carlson registered 24 kills and a career-high 20 digs while hitting .350 on the night. Sophomore Bianca Rowland continues her offensive tear of late, hitting .640 with 17 kills and just one error on 25 swings. Rowland has just one error in the past three matches. Junior Becky Perry had a season-best 18 kills, and two-time National Defensive Player of the Year Miyashiro turned in 31 digs in potentially her final Hec-Ed performance.

The Huskies cruised in the first set, outhitting the Ducks, .310-.091. Rowland and Salvo combined for consecutive blocks to open up a 9-4 Husky lead. Washington put on another 4-0 run on freshman Kelly Holford's serve to make it 13-5. The Ducks then needed time after a Miyashiro ace made it 17-8. The Huskies continued to cruise to the 25-15 set win. Carlson led the way with three kills and five digs.

Set two found the Huskies trailing late, 14-17, but they went on a 7-2 run to take a 21-19 lead. Perry and Carlson had two kills apiece in the run. Perry then went off for kills on three of the final four points, and the Huskies owned a 2-0 lead after taking the set, 25-21. Carlson had seven kills while Rowland was a perfect 4-of-4 and Miyashiro dug eight balls in the set.

Things looked good early in set three, as the Huskies opened up an 8-4 lead that forced an Oregon timeout after back-to-back Rowland kills. But Oregon crept back and tied the score at 12-12. Washington edged back out to a 21-18 lead after consecutive Oregon miscues, and a Perry put-away made it 22-20. Rowland found the floor with another swing to make it 23-20 UW, but the Ducks went to their senior, Sonja Newcombe, for consecutive kills on the last two points and Oregon escaped with the 25-23 win.

The fourth set was the most agonizing for the Husky fans in attendance. Washington and Oregon stayed close throughout, piling up 24 ties in the fourth set alone. The Ducks earned the first set point at 24-23, but Carlson staved it off with a blast. A block by Carlson and Barfield made it match point UW, but Neticia Enesi got the finish to keep Oregon alive. A Perry kill set up another match point that was erased by Newcombe. Another Carlson finish of a Hagglund set made it 27-26 Huskies, but again Newcombe tied it up on the next ball. Then Oregon moved in front and it was Washington saving a pair of set points, both times setting up Rowland. But Heather Meyers put UO up, 30-29 with a kill and then dropped a serve in front of the diving UW defense for an ace and the 31-29 win.

Washington had to use up both of its timeouts in set five before scoring a point, as Oregon took a 5-0 lead. They still held a 10-5 lead, until Washington made a run on Holford's service. A block by Hagglund and Barfield was followed by a Salvo kill that made it 10-8, and the Ducks whistled for time. Out of the break, Meyers hit long, and Carlson evened the match with another booming kill that set the crowd off and forced Oregon's last timeout. But on the next point Salvo just pushed a deep ball long, and another attack error made it 12-10 Ducks. Oregon was able to sideout from there, with Carlson saving one match point at 14-12, but Newcombe tallying her 36th kill of the night on the final point for a 15-13 win. Oregon hit .348 in the final frame to just .250 for the Dawgs.

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