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No. 15 Utah Downs No. 6 Washington In Five-Set Thriller Wednesday Night

Sep 22, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY – The No. 15 Utah Utes battled for the second road win of the season over a top-six team on Wednesday night in Seattle, downing No. 6 Washington in a five-set thriller (22-25, 26-24, 22-25, 25-18, 16-14) at Alaska Airlines Arena. After giving up a seven point lead late in the third set and trailing the match 2-1, Utah stormed back to take the road victory and move to 8-2 overall and 1-0 to begin Pac-12 play.

The top-15 matchup started the night with little separation as the largest lead of the set was four points at just 7-3 for the Utes. Washington squared the set at 8-8 and the teams battled throughout the remainder of the set with it knotted 20-20 late. The Huskies scored a pair of points and despite a kill from Robinson to cut the lead to one point, the Huskies tallied three of the next four points to close out the first set 25-22. Utah hit .268 as a unit in the opening set, but Washington's offense put together a .432 hitting percentage to outlast the Utes.

The second set played out to be similar to the first set in the sense of little separation, but it was Utah that came out on top in the frame. The Utes trailed 23-21 in crunch time before a pair of points followed by Madelyn Robinson's huge backrow attack earned Utah its first set point. Washington responded with a sideout, but the Huskies could not stop the hot-hand in Dani Drews as she pounded in back-to-back kills to end the set 26-24 and even the match at 1-1. She totaled nine kills in the second set on a .353 hitting clip to get the Utes back in the match.

Utah stormed out to an 18-11 lead in the following frame, but Washington used a 10-1 run to take a 21-19 lead. Kennedi Evans earned a much-needed kill for the Utes and an attack error from the Huskies caused the third set to be squared away at 21-21. The change in momentum was too much to overcome for Utah as Washington was able to finish the set 25-22 with the Utes limited to just .062 hitting in the third set.

Trailing 2-1, the Utes jumped to a 6-0 lead to quickly force Washington into a timeout to start the fourth set. Utah eventually pushed the lead out to 13-4, but the Huskies attempted to cut the deficit and rallied for a 7-1 run to trail just 14-11. The turning point for Utah to stay on track was a pair of consecutive kills from Drews late in the set to push Utah ahead 19-14 and the Utes never looked back, forcing a fifth set with a 25-18 set win. Utah's offense hit .375 in the frame, while Washington hit .147.

The fifth set went back to the way the first two sets were played with both teams going back and forth through its entirety. Coming down to the wire in the marathon match, Utah trailed 13-12 before Zoe Weatherington tallied a big kill from the right side to tie the set. The Utes forced an attack error at the net for their first match point, but Washington's Marin Grote earned a sideout to save the Huskies one more point. Utah's outside hitters – Drews and Madelyn Robinson – went kill for kill to end the match and pick up Utah's second win over a top-six team on the road this season.

Drews went on to finish the night with a match-high 26 kills, as well as 12 digs and two service aces. Robinson added 14 kills to the count, while Weatherington collected 10 kills. Utah's middle hitters Evans and Allie Olsen each had seven kills and no errors to help in the upset.

Joining Drews with a double-double on the evening was Robinson (11 digs), Stef Jankiewicz (51 assists, 15 digs), and Vanessa Ramirez (19 digs, 10 assists). Megan Yett added 11 digs for Utah and Olsen contributed six blocks for the Ute defense.

Utah will close out its road trip against No. 24 Colorado in Boulder, Colo. on Friday, Sept. 24. The Utes and Buffaloes will square off at 7 p.m. MT at the CU Events Center and the match will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.