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Huskies Into Sweet 16 For Ninth Time In 10 Years

Dec 4, 2021

SEATTLE – In their final match in Alaska Airlines Arena, fifth-year seniors Lauren Sanders, Samantha Drechsel, and Emma Calle earned the 118th win of their careers, more than any other class of Dawgs in school history. Win No. 118 propelled the 15th-seeded Huskies back into the Round of 16 of the NCAA Championships for the fourth year in a row, the ninth time in 10 seasons, and the 17th time in program history.
 
Washington (26-4) saved perhaps its best home court performance for its final one, with a dominant sweep of Big West Champion Hawaii, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13. A crowd of 3,322 fans saluted the Huskies, who finished 12-1 at home this season, and gave a final send off to the trio of seniors who lingered after their teammates ran off the court for one more moment together.
 
The previous record for most wins by a class was set by the 2015 seniors who totaled 117 wins over a four-year span.
 

 
The Huskies will move on to Austin, Texas where two Final Four teams from the spring will clash in the Sweet 16. No. 2 seed Texas awaits the Huskies on Thursday, Dec. 9, as the perennial tourney participants will face off for the first time since 2006.
 
Head Coach Keegan Cook has now led the Huskies to at least the Sweet 16 in six of his seven seasons. This was Washington's fourth time facing Hawaii in the NCAA tournament going back to 2010, all in Seattle, and all ending up in the win column for the Dawgs.
 

 
"Hawaii is one of the best programs in the west and the country and has been for decades," said Head Coach Keegan Cook. "A ton of respect for how they play and compete, and what you saw in our response tonight was a sign of that respect. We didn't want to give them an inch start to finish … knowing how they compete."
 
Not even a millimeter was given, as the Huskies asserted themselves in the early stages of every set. The first set remained within two points at 9-7, but UW earned a 15-10 lead at the media timeout, and continued to extend. Seven blocks in the second set, including four in a row at one point, gave UW a quick 10-3 lead that only got bigger. Then the Huskies scored the first five points of set three and never looked back.
 
"We talked about maxing out, however long we get to play together," said Cook. "Maximum effort and not holding anything back, and certainly felt that way for long stretches. Happy to be advancing on to Austin."
 
Claire Hoffman became just the fifth Husky in the 25-point set era to reach 20 kills in a three set match, as she killed 20 on 41 swings to hit .366. Drechsel had 11 kills on a .417 percentage in her final home appearance, and Ella May Powell had a double-double with 33 assists and 11 digs, adding four kills on six attempts.
 
Washington hit .365 as a team and held Hawaii to .123. The Dawgs had a big advantage at the service line with 10 aces compared to two for the Rainbow Wahine, as Shannon Crenshaw accounted for four. UW held a 8.0 to 5.0 lead in blocks, with Marin Grote collecting six of those.
 
"When you've got this one putting you in really good situations, that always makes my job easier," said Claire Hoffman, gesturing towards Powell at her side. "I think we passed really well tonight and we put ourselves in really good situations for Ella to get us the sets we needed.
 
Powell was pleased with the way the Huskies have continued to find ways to get better even late in the season.
 
"I think it's really fun to see us progress throughout the year," she said. "Last year I would say the same, from start to finish it's really cool to see our progression. But this year especially, when you play with a group that's the same for a really long time, it's cool to see what you can do. Every day we're still trying to get better."
 

 
UP NEXT: The Huskies head to Austin to take on 2nd-seeded Texas this coming Thursday, Dec. 9. The other Round of 16 match in Austin will pit unseeded Illinois against No. 10 Nebraska. Match times and broadcast information still to be finalized.

SET ONE: Powell hammered down an overpass on the first point of the match. A couple early kills from Hoffman and one from Drechsel made it 4-2 Dawgs. Hoffman dropped an ace into the seam for 6-4. Powell called her own number again for a 10-7 lead and then Crenshaw aced the Wahine for 11-7. Hoffman put away two more and Sanders hit down an overpass for 15-10 Dawgs at the media timeout. Scrappy defense kept the ball up and Lauren Bays punched it over and Hawaii had a miscommunication to let it fall for another UW point. Hoffman terminated a Powell set for 19-12 and a Hawaii timeout, but Drechsel fired an ace out of the break to extend the lead again. Another ace from Crenshaw and two more Hoffman kills helped close it out, 25-16. Hoffman had eight kills in the set and Drechsel had four on six swings as UW hit .400 and fired four aces.
 
SET TWO: Consecutive kills from Drechsel and Emoni Bush made it 3-2 in the second set. Washington's block took over with an incredible five blocks in a row to go from 5-3 to 10-3. Grote assisted on four and went solo on one, with Drechsel and Bush each assisting on two each. An ace from Drechsel made it 13-4 and forced Hawaii to take its last timeout. Crenshaw then dialed up two-straight aces to push it to 16-6. Drechsel and Sanders met for another block for 20-9. Hoffman put a Powell set off the defense and into the seats to seal the second set, 25-14. UW hit .400 once again and held Hawaii to .061 with the seven blocks in the set. Hoffman had six more kills on 11 swings.
 
SET THREE: The Huskies kept the momentum in the third, getting two more kills from Hoffman, an ace from Calle, a finish from Sanders and a Hawaii error for the first five points of the set. Bays set up Bush for a kill and then Drechsel's seventh kill made it 10-4 Dawgs. Bush had two more kills as the Dawgs kept a 12-6 advantage. The Huskies broke it open again with another 5-0 run, with kills from Hoffman, Drechsel and Powell, then a block by Sanders and Hoffman and another Hoffman put-away for 18-8. Powell dropped an ace to the end line for 20-9. Crenshaw put down her first kill to reach match point at 24-12. Olivia Mikkelsen subbed in and set Drechsel for the finish in her final swing in Alaska Airlines Arena, as the Huskies closed it out, 25-13. The Huskies hit .306 in the set and held Hawaii to just four kills on 23 swings in the frame. Drechsel and Hoffman each tallied six more kills in the third.