Third-ranked Washington overcame being down triple match point to stun No. 23 host California 17-15 in the fifth set Friday night.
The improbable win kept UW with a one-game lead in the Pac-12 with two home matches to play next week.
The Huskies (24-2, 16-2) were down 14-11 in the fifth set, but a Cassie Strickland kill saved one match point. Then Cal’s celebration was called off after the Bears hit the net on a potential kill.
Gabbi Parker then teamed with Lianna Sybeldon for the crucial block that tied it. One point later, Parker finished off a rally that got the Huskies their own match point. California (17-9, 10-7) saved it, but a Sybeldon kill earned another chance, and junior Krista Vansant capped a huge night with her 28th kill to finish the match with UW closing on a 6-1 run.
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The back-and-forth nature of the fifth set matched the rest of the night, as UW rolled in sets one and three but struggled early in sets two and four, losing each despite late comebacks. The final tally was 25-19, 23-25, 25-17, 23-25, 17-15 as the Huskies improved to 3-0 this year in five-set matches.
“Every match can be defined by a couple plays. Those are two plays right there, Gabbi goes in and blocks a ball, we dig a ball and she kills it,” UW coach Jim McLaughlin said. “Those define the match. She went back and hit a good hard jump serve too.”
The Huskies host Oregon State next Wednesday and Washington State next Friday in the final two regular-season matches, needing one win to clinch a share of the Pac-12 title and two wins to clinch it outright.
Vansant’s 28 kills were a season high. She hit .319 and added 18 digs and five blocks for 30.5 points.
Kaleigh Nelson added 14 kills and senior Kylin Muñoz had a big night with eight kills on a .353 attack percentage plus four blocks.
No. 5 host Stanford beat Washington State 25-14, 25-15, 26-24. Freshmen Kyra Holt and Emmy Allen combined for 22 of WSU’s 33 kills. Holt had 13 kills, six digs, two blocks and two aces. Allen had nine kills and hit .348. Haley MacDonald had 15 assists for the Cougars (17-13, 4-13 Pac-12).
The Cardinal (22-5, 15-3) was led by Jordan Burgess’ 13 kills.
Anna Geldenhuys scored the lone goal early in the second half as host Western Washington won its first West Regional title with a 1-0 victory over Cal State San Bernardino in the NCAA Division II national tournament.
The Vikings (19-1-1) are 11-0-0 at home and will host St. Edward’s in a quarterfinal-round game Sunday. St. Edward’s beat Metro State, winning a penalty-kick shootout 3-0 after the game was tied 1-1 at the end of extra time.
Cory Hutsen and Matt Borton combined for 40 points, leading ninth-ranked Seattle Pacific to an 86-73 victory over BYU-Hawaii on the opening day of the GNAC/PacWest Challenge in Ellensburg.
The Falcons (5-1) play Hawaii Pacific on Saturday. HPU defeated host Central Washington 71-64 in the other first-round game.
Hutsen led all scorers with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting and had eight rebounds. Borton posted his collegiate high with 18 points.
Mark McLaughlin scored 22 points for Central Washington (1-2).
Betsy Kingma nailed a three-pointer from the right side at the buzzer, boosting 21st-ranked Seattle Pacific past UC San Diego 66-63 in the opening game of the Azusa (Calif.) Pacific Crossover Classic.
After calling two consecutive timeouts, the Falcons (5-0) inbounded with 3.6 seconds left. Sophomore guard Brianna Lasconia took the ball up the right side and found a wide open Kingma, who got the shot off just as the buzzer sounded. Kingma finished with 13 points and four assists.
Seattle Pacific, continuing its best start since the 2007-08 season, was led by the season-high 26 points of senior forward Katie Benson. She also grabbed eight rebounds. Junior guard Suzanna Ohlsen added 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Seattle Pacific finishes the tournament on Saturday against host Azusa Pacific, which beat Western Washington 76-61.
The Vikings, ranked No. 13, dropped to 1-2. They were led by the 15 points of forward Kiana Gandy. Katie Colard and Taylor Peacocke each had 11 points for WWU and point guard Jenni White added 10 points.
Seattle University signed seven players to letters of intent: center fielder TJ Byrne from Federal Way, right-handed pitcher Chris Carns from Federal Way, right-handed pitcher Ky Dye from Everett, left-handed pitcher David Marshall from Kennewick, left-handed pitcher Nick Meservey from Scottsdale, Ariz., pitcher/hitter Tarik Skubal from Kingman, Ariz., and designated hitter Sheldon Stober from Kent.
From sports-information reports.