"Tough game," Washington volleyball coach Jim McLaughlin said Friday night after the fifth-ranked Huskies absorbed their third defeat in...
LOS ANGELES — “Tough game,” Washington volleyball coach Jim McLaughlin said Friday night after the fifth-ranked Huskies absorbed their third defeat in the past four matches, this one a deflating 3-2 loss to seven-ranked USC after leading 1-0 and 2-1. “Tough game.”
An ineffective night for the UW offense led sophomore standout Krista Vansant to attempt 80 attacks — the most swings a Washington player has taken in a match since Sanja Tomasevic had 94 in 2003 — and the one-dimensional approach over five sets could not overcome USC’s dig-crazy defense, resulting in a 23-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-25, 15-10 Trojan win.
“Swinging at 80 balls is too much,” McLaughlin said.
Vansant finished with 22 kills and 10 errors (.150) and was the only Washington player with double-digit kills. USC freshman Samantha Bricio was impressive with 30 kills on 74 swings (.243), and she was supported by fellow hitters Sara Shaw and Katie Fuller.
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UW (17-3, 8-3 Pac-12), the nation’s No. 1 blocking team, outblocked USC (20-3, 8-3) 20-7, but USC libero Natalie Hagglund (34 digs) and Shaw (30 digs) somehow seemed to repel every Washington attack afloat.
It was the little things, though, that bothered McLaughlin the most, such as Jenna Orlandini’s decision to let a serve by Shaw fly by and land for an ace when UW trailed 9-8 in the fifth set.
“Matches are defined by a couple of plays,” he said. “We’re going to remember that ace in the fifth game. We’ll remember hitting out of bounds in game four. Little plays that are common plays that we have made, and we’ve got to make them at the end of games.
“We were in it. We battled. That’s a good thing. But we didn’t make enough good plays.”
Senior Kylin Munoz managed just four kills on 26 attacks for UW.
“Ky was not good, and that stressed our offense because then we have to go somewhere else,” McLaughlin said.
Washington, which swept the Trojans in Seattle last month, has not defeated USC in Los Angeles since 2008.
“They’re a good team and they’re good at home,” he said. “It’s because of them that some of this stuff occurred.
“I’m just disappointed we didn’t play better, especially at crunch time. We’ve got to learn how to do that. I think this match can serve us well down the road, because this is a situation we’re going to be in in some very significant matches toward the end of this season.”
UW freshman middle blocker Melanie Wade, the Pac-12 defensive player of the week, did not play because of an ankle injury.