Fifth-ranked Washington pulled out a 22-25, 30-28, 19-25, 28-26, 16-14 victory over fourth-ranked UCLA Wednesday night.
In a barnburner of a match between top-five volleyball teams, it was UCLA, the defending national champion, that finally went down in flames.
Rallying from a 2-1 deficit, fifth-ranked Washington benefited from a career night by sophomore outside hitter Krista Vansant and a refuse-to-wilt mindset by her teammates to defeat fourth-ranked UCLA 3-2 Wednesday night in front of a boisterous crowd of 2,238 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“These are the games I came to Washington for,” coach Jim McLaughlin said after a heart-clutching 22-25, 30-28, 19-25, 28-26, 16-14 win. “These are the games I recruited kids for.”
Vansant pounded down 31 kills (a career high), including the final two in a back-and-forth deciding set during which UW (12-0, 3-0 Pac-12) trailed 8-5.
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“During that last point, I was just like, ‘Set me the ball; just hit your shot,’ ” said Vansant, who had just five errors on 58 swings, good for a glittering .448 hitting percentage. “It ended up working. It felt really good.”
McLaughlin has not lost to UCLA (9-3, 1-2) at home since 2003.
. “There’s a lot to be learned after this one,” he said. “We showed a lot of heart and played well when we had to again.”
UW lost the third set when the Bruins broke open a 13-13 tie with a 5-0 run while the Huskies struggled with passing and five service errors (on 16 for the night).
Down 10-8 in the fourth set, the Huskies rallied with an 8-1 streak that included a 6-0 serving run (including an ace) by Kelcey Dunaway.
The Bruins had match point at 24-23, but kills by Cassie Strickland and Kylin Munoz kept UW alive. A Munoz kill snuffed out another UCLA match point to tie it at 26, and an ace by Strickland and a block by former Bruin Amanda Gil forced the fifth set.
Vansant, who had 10 kills in the second set alone, was sensational at the end, hammering down seven of UW’s kills. “She’s a stud,” McLaughlin said.
Washington, which hosts third-ranked USC Friday at 6 p.m., is the last team in the country this season to have to play a fifth set.