No. 12 Huskies Host No. 21 Cougars On Senior Day
THIS WEEK IN HUSKY VOLLEYBALL
SEATTLE -- As it should be, the Boeing Apple Cup Series has a lot riding on it as the 12th-ranked Huskies and 21st-ranked Cougars close out the regular season on Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena. Washington (23-4, 16-3 Pac-12) can clinch a share of the Pac-12 championship with a victory and emphasize its case for NCAA tournament seeding, while Washington State (19-10, 13-6) looks to be the spoiler and go into the NCAA tourney on a high note.
The Huskies and Cougars get underway at 1 p.m. on Saturday, with the match televised live on Pac-12 Networks Washington. If the Huskies can defeat the Cougars, they will win at least a share of the Pac-12 title, which would be UW's second of the calendar year, and seventh in program history. UCLA, tied with UW at 16-3, is aiming for its own share and will play on Friday at USC, so the Huskies will know whether they are going for a shared title or an outright title on Saturday.
The first Boeing Apple Cup Series meeting of the season was historic, as UW and WSU tied for the longest set played in NCAA history in the 25-point set era. In Pullman, the Huskies won set four, 46-44, saving 12 match points along the way, but the Cougars then won the fifth set to win the match. WSU has won four in a row against the Huskies, though the teams did not play in the spring season. The Cougars are tied for third in the Pac-12 at 13-6, and have been managing without their top point scorer Pia Timmer, who has missed the past several matches with an injury. The rest of the Cougars have picked up the slack, as Magda Jehlarova is the highest-scoring middle in the Pac-12 with 2.42 kills per set, hitting .362 with 1.45 blocks per set. Penny Tusa is the WSU career aces leader and is second in the Pac-12 with 0.38 per set and adds 1.63 kills per set. Karly Basham is eighth in Pac-12 play with 3.41 digs per set. Katy Ryan is hitting .314 in league play with 2.06 kills per set and Hannah Pukis is posting 10.18 assists per set to rank sixth.
Saturday is Senior Day, and the Huskies will honor a trio of well-rounded and history-making student-athletes. Emma Calle, Samantha Drechsel, and Lauren Sanders will be recognized prior to the match. The three have played a leading role in 115 wins over the past five years, the 2020-21 Pac-12 title, four NCAA tournament appearances with a fifth to come, and the program's fifth Final Four appearance last spring.
Calle came to Seattle from Villa Park, California. Over the past five seasons, she earned her way into the rotation and became a key contributor during Washington's Final Four run this past spring. Calle led the Huskies with 16 digs in the Final Four match against Kentucky, serving up 2 aces. She ranked fourth on the team in the spring in both digs and aces. A two-time Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll recipient, Calle will graduate with a degree in Psychology.
After spending her freshman season at Maryland, Samantha Drechsel came back home and has built a legacy as one of the most dominant attackers in Husky history. Drechsel became a First Team All-American last spring, an All-Pac-12 Team selection, and she was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. She is one of 14 First Team All-Americans in UW history and the first right side hitter to earn the honor since Sanja Tomasevic in 2005. One of the hardest and most accurate hitters in the NCAA, Samantha ranks seventh in school history with 1,436 kills and has added 107 aces, more than 300 blocks and 600 digs. Adding her Maryland freshman year stats gives the Woodinville, Wash. native 1,647 career kills. A four-time Pac-12 Player of the Week, Drechsel will earn her degree with an Art major.
Lauren Sanders has proven herself one of the most dominant blockers in Pac-12 conference history as the anchor at the middle of the net for the Huskies since 2017. The native of Snohomish, Washington is second in Washington history and fifth in the history of the Pac-12 with 634 career blocks. Sanders has played more sets than any Husky ever, with 520 sets played and counting. She is an AVCA All-Region selection and a four-time All-Pac-12 honorable mention, and recently passed 800 career kills. A selfless leader, Sanders is a Speech and Hearing Sciences major and was just named a member of the CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team.