No. 7 Huskies Sweep No. 20 Oregon
EUGENE, Ore. – The No. 7 Washington volleyball team struck first against rival and 20th-ranked Oregon on Friday at Matthew Knight Arena, sweeping aside the Ducks in impressive fashion – 25-21, 25-19, 25-13 – to win their sixth-straight match.
The match was billed as a battle between the top two teams in the Pac-12 standings as Oregon (8-3) came into the day riding a seven-game win streak and in a three-way tie for second. But the first-place Huskies controlled the match from the get-go and never trailed by more than one point during a set. The latest UW trailed was 3-2 in both the first and third sets.
Senior Samantha Drechsel led the offensive attack with 16 kills with two aces, as the Huskies turned in an efficient hitting performance that saw them outhit the Ducks, .356 to .149.
"It didn't start out offensively that great for anyone, and we talked about how Oregon's a very good defensive team and they can serve really tough and we need to stay disciplined," said Head Coach Keegan Cook. "Just stay in it if we weren't able to sideout the way we wanted. Then it started to come through in the second and third sets. Sam and Madi got back in and finished with great numbers offensively after tough starts."
The Ducks entered action on Friday holding opponents to an attack percentage of .161. The Huskies were well above that mark all day and steadily improved as the match wore on, going from .238 in the first set to .357 in the second until finishing with a flourish, hitting .516 in the third.
Madi Ensley was second on the team with nine kills. Claire Hoffman hit .364 and had eight kills in 22 attacks, while also recording 10 digs. Defending Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Marin Grote had an efficient day, recording seven kills in 12 attacks (.583). Ella May Powell dished out 33 assists to keep the offense in rhythm.
UW also controlled the net all day with a 12-2 block advantage. Senior middle Lauren Sanders accounted for nine blocks to lead the way.
— Washington Volleyball (@UWVolleyball) March 5, 2021
"Lauren was excellent as a blocker today," said Cook. "She didn't have the best offensive match but I challenged her to effect the game. She really locked in defensively and made a bunch of plays in the third set."
The Huskies trailed 3-2 in the first set before embarking on an 8-1 run to take a commanding 10-4 lead. The Huskies won five points with Emma Calle serving, highlighted by a pair of blocks involving Sanders.
Oregon would close within two, 18-16, but the Huskies attack buttoned up the hatches and staved off any possible rally. Grote had three kills down the stretch, including on set point to give UW a 1-0 advantage.
In set two, the Huskies only trailed once, 2-1. They took advantage of several errors by the Ducks and more strong blocking to break away for a 7-3 advantage and never looked back. The Ducks hung with the Huskies and got within three points late, 21-18, but a kill by Drechsel, followed by a solo block by Ella May Powell and another Drechsel kill extinguished any hopes of a late-set rally by the Ducks.
Oregon led 3-2 in the third set, but once again the Huskies used an early spurt, this time a 5-0 run, to take all the momentum. Up 12-9, the Huskies went on another 5-0 spree to take the wind out of the Ducks sails. Drechsel had three kills during the mini run that helped UW to a 17-9 advantage.
Endsley had her hands on each of the Huskies final three points of the match. The freshman picked up a kill, followed by a block and punctuated her day with a match-clinching kill to give the Huskies the 12-point, third-set win.
UP NEXT: The two teams meet again on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. in Eugene.