Huskies Top Cardinal Behind Drechsel’s 23 Kills
SEATTLE – A 2-0 Husky lead turned into a thriller late but the Huskies got the ending they desired with a 25-22, 25-19, 22-25, 29-27 victory over visiting Stanford at Alaska Airlines Arena. The Dawgs needed five match points to finish it in the fourth set, but were able to do so thanks in large part to senior Samantha Drechsel's 23 kills, 18 digs, and .588 attack percentage.
It was Washington's first match in nearly two full weeks after having last week's matches with Washington State canceled due to Covid-19 protocols within the WSU program. The Huskies (14-3 Pac-12) showed a little offensive rust early but then picked up their attack, going from hitting .154 in the first set to .433 in the second. But Stanford (2-7 Pac-12) showed the pride of a defending national champion in rallying back and forcing the Huskies to execute over and over in the fourth set, which UW was able to do with a .385 attack percentage in the last frame.
"A hard-fought match. A lot of credit to Stanford," said Head Coach Keegan Cook. "I thought at this point in the season they would be as good as you saw tonight. Just really stout defensively, a really strong serving team, an outside hitter who played to her ability level. It's a late season Pac-12 match and they were up to the task … I think we're still not playing to a championship standard from a serve and pass perspective, and from a defensive perspective. That's going to be our attitude tomorrow is how do we get better in those phases of the game? And then have a better showing on Sunday."
We had to save this clip for the end ... safe to call this the Rally of the Year??
— Washington Volleyball (@UWVolleyball) March 27, 2021
Drechsel's 23 kills were one off her career-high, but a new career-best in a four set match. Seven of those 23 came in the crucial fourth set, where UW went from 22-23 down, to up 24-23 to earn a match point, but Stanford would save that one, and UW would go up by one point four more times, never letting Stanford back ahead, until at 28-27 a tough serve from Ella May Powell led to a setting error by the Cardinal to end it.
On his senior opposite's effort tonight, Coach Cook said, "We've asked Sam to hit all spots of the court; we've asked her to hit against double blocks; we've put her in really difficult hitting situations at the end of practice all year, and we've encouraged her to go for it. That's what I liked seeing tonight, just hitting ball after ball hard, without any hesitation about what was in front of her; she went for it and she responded to the hitting errors she did have with another good swing. That is a great sign, so credit to her for the hitter she's become."
Powell helped the Huskies hit .285 overall with 50 assists, and a lot of those also went to freshman Madi Endsley, who tied her career-high with 18 kills and hit .283. Lauren Sanders had five blocks to move into sole possession of fourth on the career blocks list. Shannon Crenshaw had 18 digs plus a career-high seven assists, and Claire Hoffman had 10 kills and seven digs.
UP NEXT: Washington and Stanford do it again this Sunday at 12 noon in the final home match of the season for the Dawgs. Washington will honor senior Maria Bogomolova in a pre-match ceremony. The match will again be televised on Pac-12 Networks.