The fifth-ranked Huskies, two nights after rallying for a dramatic 3-2 win over No. 4 UCLA, effectively counterpunched third-ranked USC Friday night for an impressive 3-0 win in front of a noisy, black-clad crowd of 4,053 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
On volleyball’s version of Blackout Night, Washington scored a knockout.
The fifth-ranked Huskies, two nights after rallying for a dramatic 3-2 win over No. 4 UCLA, effectively counterpunched third-ranked USC on Friday night for an impressive 3-0 win in front of a noisy, black-clad crowd of 4,053 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Washington (13-0, 4-0 Pac-12), one of only three unbeaten teams in the country at the start of the week, now owns wins over two teams that reached last year’s NCAA Final Four, including defending national champion UCLA.
“We grew a lot,” said UW coach Jim McLaughlin. “A lot. We were talking about opportunity to take another step forward, and this showed some maturity in this group.
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“Beating the Bruins was an emotional win. Sometimes you can take a step back, but I challenged these guys not to. They rose to the challenge and really played well.”
By serving eight aces, five by Kylin Munoz, and outblocking USC’s tall front line 11-4 in a 25-23, 26-24, 25-21 win, the Huskies made a case for being viewed as one of the country’s top teams.
Maybe, said McLaughlin.
“Still, we screwed up at times and recovered,” he said. “That’s the sign of a good team, when you can recover.”
The Huskies trailed 21-20 in the first set but rallied with a 5-2 burst that ended with a Munoz tip for set point. They bounced back from a 24-22 deficit in the second set, winning on a Gabbi Parker serving run that included an ace and finally closed with a Munoz kill and a Munoz/Amanda Gil block.
In the third set, UW was down 15-13 but ran off six straight points and never trailed again.
“Finishing has kind of been one of the mottos,” McLaughlin said.
“We’ve got to finish drills. We’ve got to finish practices. We’ve got to finish games. We’ve got to finish everything we do.”
Sophomore Krista Vansant had 12 kills on 27 swings. Senior middle blocker Kelcey Dunaway, getting her first Pac-12 starts this week, had six kills on nine attacks, four in the third set. Gil had five kills and six block assists.