The Huskies saw their five-match winning streak come to an end. They will need to close the regular season with victories vs. Oregon on Wednesday and at Washington State on Saturday to have any realistic hope of hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
Stanford was a rude guest Sunday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Arena.
A nice crowd was on hand, hoping to see the No. 20 Washington volleyball team pull off a big upset over the No. 2 Cardinal.
But Stanford quickly and methodically silenced the buzz, taking a 9-1 lead in the first game, with UW coach Keegan Clark calling a pair of timeouts. That halted the Cardinal’s momentum briefly, but it was clear that Stanford wanted to play no part of the story line fans had hoped for, winning 25-16, 25-18, 25-19.
The Huskies saw their five-match winning streak end, putting them in a situation where they will need to close the regular season with victories against Oregon on Wednesday and at Washington State on Saturday to have any realistic hope of being one of 16 teams to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
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The Huskies (18-10, 10-8 Pac-12), with just one senior, took a while to get going against Stanford (26-1, 18-0), and you can’t do that against a team like the Cardinal.
“I told them we couldn’t do anything more the opposite of what we were trying to do,” Cook said of falling behind so quickly in the first game. “That was early service errors, hits out of bounds, and that’s part of being a young team that it takes you a while to work yourself into the match. We couldn’t have done more things wrong in those first 10 points and it took the environment out of it.”
The Huskies closed to 12-8 in the first game, but the Cardinal recovered and pulled away.
The Huskies were more competitive in the final two games, but Stanford won points when it needed to.
UW never held a lead in the first two games, but had several leads in the third game. But with the score 12-12, Stanford won five straight points and soon after the match was over.
Kara Bajema had 12 kills for the Huskies, who were held to a .068 attacking percentage with Stanford making one great save after another. Tami Alade had 11 kills for Stanford, which had a .264 attacking percentage.
Still, the Huskies are trending upward, and will undoubtedly be in the NCAA tournament even if they don’t host the first two rounds. But Sunday was a lost opportunity.
“I expected more from us in this match,” Cook said. “In the grand scheme of things, I know we are a better team (than how it played). It’s about having a December mindset where every match could be your last match and if you walk away from that match, would you be satisfied with your performance, win or lose? This first chance at it, we didn’t pass that test.”
But they get two more chances this week.