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Late Rally Thwarts Bobcat Upset Bid In Home Opener

Sep 16, 2021

ICYMI: Friday night's match against Portland at Alaska Airlines Arena has been canceled due to the Pilots dealing with non-Covid related injuries.

SEATTLE – In case Husky fans had forgotten any of the excitement of volleyball in Alaska Airlines Arena, Washington treated them to a big dose of it in its home opener. The seventh-ranked Huskies had to rally late this afternoon to stave off a valiant effort from Montana State.
In the first home match with full fan attendance in 647 days, the Huskies (6-1) were down two sets to one. After forcing a fifth set, UW lost the first five points of the final frame, and were down 5-10, until scoring 11 of the next 15 points to come out on top, 16-14. The final score line was 26-28, 25-17, 22-25, 25-11, 16-14.
It was the first match of a double-header for UW, as the Huskies will host Fresno State tonight at 7 p.m.
The final stats don't indicate the tightness of the match, as UW easily won sets two and four, but MSU won very close sets one and three. The Huskies hit .279 for the match compared to .178 for Montana State and had ten more kills, 61-51. UW led in aces, 11-6, and digs, 45-41, with two more blocks (13.0 to 11.0).

Samantha Drechsel and Madi Endsley shared the team lead with 14 kills apiece. Second-year outside hitter Emoni Bush had career highs with 11 kills on 37 attempts, filling in for Claire Hoffman who did not play this afternoon. The MB tandem continued to attack effectively, as Marin Grote had 10 kills, hitting .474 and Sophie Summers had eight kills, hitting .500.
Ella May Powell had 47 assists and four kills on five attacks. Emma Calle had 12 digs and Shannon Crenshaw added 11 with three aces, including the crucial one on match point to end it. Freshman Lauren Bays also had three aces, the first aces of her career.
Head Coach Keegan Cook said postmatch, "I always try and think, with a match like that, how would I be feeling if it had been 14-16 in the fifth instead of 16-14? Hopefully the response from myself and from the team looks pretty similar when it's just a two point difference. The way we're feeling and behaving until our next match should look pretty similar. We had a significantly younger lineup today and sometimes young players think they have a lot of time to get things in place, and I'm thankful that this match showed our younger players that they don't have as much time as they think to get things in place."

Trailing 5-10 in the fifth set, Bush found the floor for a kill and then Grote grabbed a solo block to cut the gap to three. After a MSU point, Grote finished for 8-11 and then the next play saw Summers just dig the ball up after it went inside her block, and Drechsel took a peek at the defense and hit one short into the middle for a kill. The next play had Summers get up for a solo block of a Bobcat dump attempt, and then another huge block from Endsley and Summers tied it at 11-all. Sianna Houghton continued to serve, and UW got a transition swing and Endsley crushed it for 12-11, capping a 5-0 run. After a timeout, Montana State tied it, but UW would inch ahead each time with kills from Endsley and Drechsel, both going off speed. Montana State saved one match point to tie it at 14-14, but Drechsel got another chance with a right side kill. Then Crenshaw's next serve caught a little tape and fell to the court to end it, 16-14.
"We ended with some good serving, and some disciplined hitting, but also something we've been striving for for a long time, just a few more defensive plays behind the block," said Cook. "So that showed up when we needed it most."