No. 11 Huskies Grind Out Road Win At Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – A career-high 12 kills from Marin Grote helped the 11th-ranked Huskies overcome a tough Illinois squad opening its home season with a crowded house tonight. Washington (2-1) had several chances to complete a sweep, but answered the bell after a marathon third set loss, defeating the Fighting Illini 25-15, 25-21, 30-32, 25-21 on day one of the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge.
The Dawgs got their first true road win tonight inside Huff Hall, where a crowd of 2,512 was on hand to recognize a pair of Illinois' Olympian alumni Jordyn Poulter and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley. The momentum could have turned when UW had five match point chances to close the match out in three, but the Huskies maintained their composure and won the final four points of the match from 21-21 in the fourth set.
"A lot of respect for Illinois and the gym we were playing in," said Husky Head Coach Keegan Cook. "This is one of the venues we were excited to go into. Illinois put a lot of pressure on us. I didn't like some of our plays at the end of the third, we had chances to end it but did some things out of character. We regained our composure and marched ahead in the fourth set."
Grote surpassed her previous career-high in kills by one, as she had 12 tonight with just two errors on 19 swings for a .526 attack percentage. All-American Ella May Powell was all-around strong with 37 assists, two aces, two kills, nine digs, and she tied her career-high with six blocks. Claire Hoffman tied for the team lead in kills with 12, her total for all three matches so far this season.
"Ella May was outstanding and we're holding her to a really high standard, and she answered the call," said Cook. "Marin is playing very free right now. She has a good understanding of what she needs to do to be successful. A disciplined approach to the game. Claire was resilient in serve-receive the entire match."
— Washington Volleyball (@UWVolleyball) September 4, 2021
The Huskies outhit Illinois for the match, .227 to .167. Washington served up 10 aces compared to eight for Illinois, and had 13.0 blocks to 8.0 for the Illini. Illinois had more kills (57-48) and digs (49-43).
UP NEXT: The Huskies will be back in Huff Hall at 3 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow to close out the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The match will be streamed online via Big Ten Network Plus.
SET 1: The Dawgs jumped on the Illini quickly in the opening frame on a Sianna Houghton serving run. Grote and Hoffman had early kills and several Illinois errors made it 6-1. But Illinois answered back with six of the next seven and it was tied up again at 7-7. Hoffman dropped in the first ace for UW to crack open another lead, and then Drechsel slammed her third kill in transition for 11-7. Drechsel and Grote then teamed up for the first Husky rejection to make it 13-8 Dawgs. A perfect Hoffman pass led to a Grote slide kill, and then an Illinois error made it 17-11 and forced the UI timeout. Another 3-0 run was capped by a Drechsel kill for 21-13 Dawgs and Illinois used its final timeout. The set closed quickly with back-to-back aces from Hoffman as the Huskies prevailed, 25-15.
The Huskies outhit Illinois, .368 to -.033 in the set with Drechsel getting four kills.
SET 2: Sanders swung on two and tooled the block for the first point of the second set. A right side hammer from Hoffman and two early blocks by Sanders and Drechsel, and Sanders and Endsley, made it 5-4. An Illinois run put the Huskies down three, but some strong defense including a Grote-Powell block assist got it back tied up at 9-all. Powell took the offense into her own hands for the first time with a dump, and then Endsley fired an ace for an 11-10 lead. Hoffman ended a long rally with a blast off the block and then another Endsley ace made it 14-10. Grote killed a slide for 15-10 at the media timeout. Calle had a dig that led to another Hoffman rip for 18-12 Dawgs and Illinois took time. Illinois came back with a 3-0 run out of the break and the Huskies needed time. Sanders struck on a quick set in serve-receive to snap the run for 19-15. Endsley snapped another Illinois run with a shot off the block for 21-18. Endsley powered down two more kills and then Calle aced the Illini to get to set point at 24-20. Illinois saved one but Grote hammered down a slide on the next rally for 25-21.
Washington hit .265 compared to .194 for Illinois in the frame as six Huskies had at least one kill with Powell getting 10 assists and five digs.
SET 3: Sanders had a block and a kill as the teams were even through the first ten points. A run from the Illini made it 5-7 but Endsley hammered inside the block to get back within a point. Hoffman launched a cross-court bump set and Endsley rewarded her with an assist, as she pounded it up the line for a kill. Drechsel floated an ace to put UW back up one, 9-8. Hoffman crushed in transition for 11-10 Dawgs. A couple Husky errors and an Illinois ace that trickled over the tape made it 12-14, but Grote answered with a huge swing out of the middle. After an Illinois ace made it 13-16, UW fought back with a Hoffman kill, a Powell ace, and a Drechsel kill off an overpass. Sanders and Drechsel stuffed one back down to put the Huskies back up, 17-16, but Illinois answered with two to retake the lead. Sanders hammered a quick set but a couple more for Illinois made it 19-21 and the Huskies took time. Grote got a kill out of the break and then Illinois went in the net for 21-all. Illinois just managed to get a block touch for the next point, and then the Huskies misfired for 21-23. Endsley got a key sideout with a kill and then Calle's serve was misplayed and fell for 23-all, and Illinois took timeout. The Dawgs went ahead with Hoffman crushing one in transition, but Illinois saved the first match point chance for 24-all. Grote earned another shot, but that was saved again. The Huskies would ultimately earn five match points but were unable to finish it off, and Illinois finally converted on its third set point to win, 32-30.
Hoffman had five kills on eight swings in the marathon set but Illinois hit .326 while UW dropped down to .171 in the set.
SET 4: Kills from Drechsel and Endsley had the Huskies hitting reset quickly and leading 5-3. Grote sparked a run with a slide kill and then had a rejection. Powell hit down an overpass and then Grote got in on another block with Hoffman for 10-6 and Illinois took time. Illinois had a couple out of the break but Grote finished the next set from Powell for 11-8. But Illinois kept its push going and went ahead, 11-12, after two straight blocks. Hoffman had consecutive kills to retake the Husky lead, but the score would be tied several more times until two straight kills from Endsley and Grote put the Dawgs up 20-18 and forced an Illinois timeout. Illinois won a long rally that UW had some chances at, but Grote again killed a slide for 21-19. Illinois scored twice to level it once again, but Sanders tooled the block on a slide to send Powell to serve at 22-21. Sanders and Hoffman ended a long rally with a crucial block for 23-21, and then a tough Powell serve forced a setting error and it was match point for the first time in the set, but sixth time in the match. This time UW did not wait around, as Powell dropped in a service ace for the 25-21 winner, as the Huskies finished on a 4-0 run.