No. 15 Utes Upset No. 6 Huskies In Tense Five Sets
SEATTLE – Alaska Airlines Arena was electric with a full Dawg Pack and 2,129 fans on hand to witness yet another classic match between Washington and Utah, reminiscent of the last time the teams played in front of fans in Seattle in 2019. Whereas the Huskies won a fifth-set thriller two years ago, and won twice more this past spring in an empty arena, 15th-ranked Utah got the final point tonight to top the sixth-ranked Huskies in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
Momentum swung back and forth multiple times tonight but the final push was made by the Utes (8-2, 1-0 Pac-12) as they won the two-and-a-half hour slugfest, 22-25, 26-24, 22-25, 25-18, 16-14, winning six of the final eight points to take the final set after the Huskies (7-2, 0-1 Pac-12) had earned a 12-10 lead.
Washington dropped its Pac-12 opener for the second season in a row, but last season the Dawgs came back to win 17 of their next 19 matches to win the conference title, so UW will look for history to repeat itself.
The Huskies took a 2-1 lead with a 25-22 third set win that featured a remarkable comeback from down seven points at 11-18. But after that dramatic win, the Huskies fell behind 0-6 to start the fourth set and down by as many as nine. UW came back again and cut it to three points, but Utah answered to force the fifth set.
Head Coach Keegan Cook liked the Huskies' resiliency but not the fact that they put themselves behind the eight ball to begin with.
"There were lots of stretches in that match where we went down big, and we chase teams down, and that's part of our identity that we've been proud of, but it's not something that leads to a lot of long-term success," said Cook. "I'm hoping this match teaches us a hard lesson. You need to be consistent in how you play and not ride the roller-coaster, so to speak."
Utah outhit the Huskies for the match, .233 to .205 and had slim advantages in kills (68-63) and digs (78-71) while the Huskies had one more ace (5-4) and a couple more blocks (11.0 to 9.0).
Junior middle Marin Grote had a career night with 16 kills, four more than her previous career-high, hitting .481, and she added eight block assists. Samantha Drechsel had a double-double with 13 kills and 15 digs and Claire Hoffman had 16 kills and 14 digs for her own double-double. Madi Endsley added another 14 kills
Ella May Powell had a season-high 52 assists plus seven digs and five blocks. Shannon Crenshaw had 15 digs and two aces and freshman Lauren Bays had her best match with 14 digs.
Claire Hoffman with the kick save, and a beauty!! ??
?? ESPNU @sportscenter #Top10 x #PointHuskies pic.twitter.com/xfdDIWwI2B
— Washington Volleyball (@UWVolleyball) September 23, 2021
UP NEXT: Washington will head to enemy territory for the Boeing Apple Cup Series first round at Washington State this Sunday, Sept. 26, at 12 noon. The match will be televised live on Pac-12 Networks.
SET 1: Utah opened up with the first three points before an error got the Huskies on the board. UW's first kill came from Endsley who put one off the block for 3-6. The Huskies got rolling on Drechsel's serve with consecutive kills for Marin Grote, a finish by Endsley, and then an ace from Drechsel to tie it up at 7-7. A kill from Endsley put the Huskies up one and a Hoffman finish made it 10-9 Dawgs. The teams swapped leads with the Utes getting back to a two-point lead at 11-13, but Drechsel finished on the left and then rotated to the right to hammer one for 13-all. Endsley put one to the floor to get the Huskies back on top, 15-14, at the media timeout. Grote and Endsley sent one back out of the break and a few points later, another block from the Grote-Powell combo made it 18-15. The Utes fought back with the next three to tie it but Hoffman snapped it with back-to-back kills. Bays dug a Utes blast and it led to a Hoffman kill for a big point for 22-20 and Utah took timeout. Powell had a perfect backwards flip on second contact for 23-21 and Sophie Summers killed a quick for set point, 24-22, forcing the last Utah timeout. Hoffman had a tough float serve out of the break and Utah passed it too tight, with Endsley going up to put it down to end the set, 25-22.
The Huskies rolled to a .432 attack percentage in the set with Endsley hammering six kills on nine swings without an error. The Dawgs also had 21 digs in the set, with five each from Drechsel, Crenshaw, and Bays.
SET 2: Hoffman tooled the block for the first UW point for 1-1. Endlsey and Grote put down hard-driven balls as the teams were even at 4-all. Hoffman wiped a tight set smartly off the block as the score evened again at 7-7. Drechsel finished one inside the block for 9-10 Utes. Endsley added two more, one lasered up the line and one softly tipped over the block for 13-13. Then the Huskies moved in front with back-to-back blocks at the right pin from Grote and Powell for 15-13 at the media timeout. Utah got three straight out of the break to retake the lead, but Hoffman tooled the block for 16-16. Another right pin block by Summers and Drechsel was followed by a Drechsel kill for 19-17 and Utah took time. Utah tied it with a block at 20-all then went ahead on a Husky passing miscue. Summers tied it again at 21 with a quick strike, and then Crenshaw fired an ace to claw the Huskies back in front. Endsley then rose up for a stuff on the left for 23-21 and Utah used its finale timeout. A Utah sideout prompted a Husky timeout up by one. Washington missed a swing wide for 23-all, then Utah won another lengthy rally to go up one and the Huskies had to take time again down set point. Endsley saved it with a swing off high hands for 24-all, but Utah scored again to get another chance. Utah ended the next point with a kill from Dani Drews to grab the set, 24-26, and even the match.
The Huskies had five blocks in the set, three by Powell, but Utah hit .263 while the Huskies hit just .182.
SET 3: Lauren Sanders started the third set in the middle for the Dawgs, her first appearance in three weeks' time, and Sanders rejected the first Utah swing she saw on the first point of the set. But Utah had a 7-1 run to open up a five point lead and force a Husky timeout. A 4-0 Husky run on Crenshaw's serve made it 6-7, as Crenshaw had an ace and Powell set up Drechsel and Grote for kills. Utah built its lead back up, however, forcing a Husky timeout down 10-16. The gap was seven at 11-18 when a 5-1 run got the Huskies back within reach, as Drechsel had a kill and then Grote ran to the pin for consecutive slide kills to make it 16-19, forcing a Utah timeout. Drechsel then aced the Utes out of the break to get within two. A Utah error and another kill by Grote tied it up at 19-all, and then Coach Cook won a challenge reversal for a Utah net error and the Huskies had taken the lead, 20-19. One more Grote kill on the slide made it 21-19 before Utah scored to snap the streak. A couple Utah errors and a kill from Grote got the Dawgs to set point at 24-22, and Hoffman finished a bump set from Sanders on the next play for the 25-22 win.
Grote killed all six of her swings in the third set, helping the Husky offense which hit just .103 overall but UW held Utah to an .062 percentage.
SET 4: Washington's momentum to finish the third set disappeared quickly to start the fourth, with a handful of errors contributing to a 0-6 hole and a UW timeout. Hoffman provided some kills but the deficit continued to grow to nine points at 3-12. Grote put down an overpass off a Crenshaw serve and then Grote and Drechsel assisted on a rejection as the Huskies made their first move back within five at 8-13, and Utah took timeout. Drechsel connected from the right and then floated an ace to the back line for 10-14. Endsley put one down in transition to cut another off the lead. The teams traded sideouts to 14-17, but a 4-0 Utah run got the lead back up to seven at 14-21 and the Huskies were unable to mount another run, falling 18-25. Utah hit .375 in the fourth while the Huskies hit .147
SET 5: Drechsel finished a marathon rally on the second point for 1-1 and added another for 2-all. Endsley hammered one from the left and Powell dumped for a kill to make it 5-3 Dawgs. Utah tied it at five, but Grote answered with a slide kill for 6-5. But Utah came back with the next three points to lead, 6-8, at the media timeout. Powell found Hoffman for a kill out of the break, and then consecutive Ute misses tied it up at 9-9. A long rally was capped by a block from Grote and Endsley to put the Huskies back up, 11-10, and then another Utah error made it 12-10 Dawgs. Utah answered with a kill and then an ace and the Huskies took time. Out of the break, Grote finished another slide for 13-12, but the Utes tied it with a serve-receive kill and then UW made a hitting error to give match point to the Utes. A kill from Grote saved it and sent it to extra points at 14-all, but Utah converted for another match point try, and finished this one with a back row kill for the win at 14-16.
The Huskies outhit Utah in the fifth set, .152 to .138, but had a couple service errors while Utah had no misses plus an ace.