Losing teams can be tricky.
Oregon State entered Wednesday’s matchup having not won since September. And within their string of 18 consecutive Pac-12 losses before Wednesday, the Beavers had won only 11 sets. The desperation to break the skid could’ve caused problems for No. 5 Washington.
For a moment, it did.
After the Huskies opened the match attacking, the Beavers built confidence late until junior outside hitter Krista Vansant gave the Huskies the power they needed to close out the match. UW eventually disposed of OSU 25-17, 25-11, 24-26, 25-10.
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With the win, Washington secured at least a co-Pac-12 Conference championship. No. 3 Stanford (23-5 overall, 16-3 Pac-12) defeated Arizona to remain one game behind UW. Washington (25-2, 17-2) plays its season finale on Friday against Washington State (18-13, 5-13).
“I just want to see Washington on the trophy,” UW coach Jim McLaughlin said. He led the Huskies to their last conference title in 2005, the same season they won their only NCAA championship.
“It’s just way better when you get it outright,” he continued. “We’ve got a piece of it but we don’t want to share.”
The Huskies committed just one error in the opening set, totaling 16 kills. The second ended on a booming ace by senior outside hitter Gabbi Parker.
Oregon State (9-21, 0-19) was plucky in the third set, however. UW made uncharacteristic errors and was tied 14-14 with OSU when McLaughlin called a timeout to talk with the team. After he stepped back from the huddle, the players remained, adding a few more pointers for each other.
The Beavers capitalized on another Huskies error to take a 15-14 lead in the set. The teams remained locked within a point of each other until a kill by junior outside hitter Kaleigh Nelson and ace from sophomore setter Katy Beals seemed to create space to finish the match.
Instead, OSU answered outside of a timeout and used long rallies to swipe points and take the set 26-24. UW committed eight errors overall in the set, just the fifth time this season it had eight or more in a single set.
In the final set, UW unleashed an attacking percentage of .458, led by Vansant’s five kills and one ace, to put the Beavers away. Vansant led the Huskies with 15 kills overall, followed by Nelson’s 13.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans