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Drechsel Leads Huskies To Tough Win Over Trojans

Oct 29, 2021

LOS ANGELES – On a night when its usual high-powered offense didn't come easy, the eighth-ranked Huskies did enough from the service line and received another phenomenal effort from All-American senior Samantha Drechsel, and gritted out a trio of tight sets to beat USC at the Galen Center. Washington (16-3, 9-2 Pac-12) had an 8-1 edge in aces and Drechsel delivered 22 kills for the 28-26, 28-26, 19-25, 25-23 win over the Trojans (10-10, 6-5 Pac-12) to start the second half of Pac-12 play.
 
The win is the ninth in a row for the Huskies and fifth-straight against USC, but the first in the Galen Center after the last four matches in the series all came in Seattle. Washington will now head to UCLA for a first-place showdown Sunday against the Bruins, who are tied with UW at 9-2.
 
"Give a lot of credit to the players for having some grit in a match where we weren't playing particularly smooth offensively," said Head Coach Keegan Cook. "We were still able to side out at a relatively high percentage. But give credit to USC, I thought they executed really well and defended us really tough. That's what good teams in this conference are going to do, they're going to get better.
 
Cook continued, "Good teams find a way to win this match, and great teams learn from it. That's certainly going to be the challenge here in a short turnaround to UCLA is to learn from what happened. When you're talking like that it's often after a loss, but this group as usual found a way."

 
Drechsel's 22 kills were a season-high and a career-high in a four-set match, and she did it while hitting .404. Claire Hoffman added 13 kills and three aces with 11 digs and a career-high five blocks. Madi Endsley came off the bench and provided seven kills. Ella May Powell had a double-double with 42 assists and 11 digs plus a pair of aces.
 
"We ask a lot of Sam and different parts of her game shine at different moments, but tonight it was just her offense against a well-formed block that was looking for her," said Cook. "She hit with range and hit really competently at the end of the match, which I was really happy about."
 
Lauren Sanders had a team-high nine blocks, moving up to 612 for her career, one behind Associate Head Coach Leslie Gabriel for second in school history.

 
Effective serving helped the Huskies overcome a deficit in the typically-crucial attack percentage column. USC outhit the Huskies, .301 to .204, but Washington had the 8-1 edge in aces, and UW missed just five serves while the Trojans made 15 errors from their end.

In both sets one and two, the Huskies had to survive Trojan set point chances. In set one, the Trojans had an opportunity at 24-25, but Powell had one of her two kills to save it and UW went back up on a Hoffman-Sanders block and eventually won on its fourth set point chance with a Hoffman kill off an overpass. In set two, it was the Trojans with two set points at 22-24, but Drechsel saved one and then Sanders and Hoffman had another roof for 24-all. USC had two more chances before the Huskies got their first after a Sanders-Drechsel block for 27-26, and a Hoffman ace caught tape and fell for the 2-0 lead. Appropriately, the fourth set and the match was put away on an ace, as Sianna Houghton put one off the Trojan pass and into the referee stand on UW's first match point chance at 24-23 in the fourth set.
 
UP NEXT: Washington and UCLA meet for the final time this Sunday at 4 p.m. and the winner will head into November alone in first, as both teams are 9-2 in conference. The match will be televised live nationally on ESPNU.