PORTLAND – The fifth-ranked Washington volleyball team was one point away from sweeping through another Northwest Challenge tournament on Saturday, but it wasn’t until an hour later that the Huskies finally subdued an upset-minded Gonzaga squad in five sets. After losing two nail-biting sets in the third and fourth, the Huskies (3-0) closed out with a 15-9 fifth-set win to clinch the tournament title at Portland State.
This is the sixth year of the tournament with the Huskies, Gonzaga, Portland State and Boise State, and the sixth title for UW. But Saturday marked the first time the Huskies had lost sets in the tournament. Washington had two match points in the third set, and five more in the fourth set, before winning on its second match-point chance in the fifth. The final exhausting line was 25-18, 25-21, 26-28, 30-32, 15-9.
This came after the Huskies had swept Portland State just a few hours prior.
Washington hit a strong .356 for the match, but Gonzaga more than held its own at .306 for the night. Five Huskies had double figures in kills, led by junior Kaleigh Nelson’s 18 and 16 for junior Krista Vansant, who left midway through the fourth set with an ankle injury. Sophomore Lianna Sybeldon had a career-high 13 kills, and Melanie Wade also notched a career best with 11 to go with no errors for a .647 attack percentage. Jenni Nogueras had 37 assists and Katy Beals had 35, with senior Jenna Orlandini earning a match-high 18 digs.
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