- #8 Washington defeats Kentucky 3-0 (25-21, 25-11, 25-20)
- Washington moves on to the regional round, where they’ll face Arizona in Nebraska
- Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, Washington
- Attendance: 2,572
With 14 kills in just 32 sets, Courtney Schwan led a Washington sweep of Kentucky to send the Huskies to the Sweet Sixteen.
Crissy Jones had a double double with 11 kills and 10 digs for Washington. The Pac-12 champs are a clean 6-0 in sets so far this tournament, having swept Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Kentucky both at home. Washington will now take to the road, with the next two rounds of their bracket being held in Lincoln, Nebraska. They’ll face Pac-12 foe Arizona, whom the Huskies beat 3-1 in October and 3-0 in November.
Kentucky, which spent much of the year leading the SEC, came up with 31 team digs, led by 12 from Ashley Dusek. Dusek was named the SEC Libero of the Year for her regular season campaign. Kentucky also had 11 kills from Leah Edmond in the loss.
SEATTLE – For the fifth year in a row, the Husky volleyball team has a sweet feeling in the NCAA tournament. The eighth-seeded Dawgs swept past Kentucky tonight at Alaska Airlines Arena to put themselves in the Sweet 16 with a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska on tap. In their final home match of the year, the Huskies (28-4) had one of their finest performances, defeating the Wildcats, 25-21, 25-11, 25-20, in front of 2,572 fans.
Washington, seeded eighth overall, will now have another set of Wildcats to deal with, as Pac-12 rival Arizona upset No. 9 seed Michigan State today to reach the round of 16 as well. There will also be an all-Big Ten battle in Lincoln, as No. 1 seed Nebraska will face No. 16 Penn State in the region’s other round of 16 match-up. The round of 16 matches will take place next Friday, Dec. 9, and the Elite Eight matches will be Saturday, Dec. 10.
UW’s junior quartet led the way tonight as it has for much of the season. Courtney Schwan, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, led the Huskies with 14 kills on a .440 attack percentage, while Tia Scambray added 10 kills on a .450 mark with nine digs. Crissy Jones had a double-double with 11 kills and a team-high 10 digs, hitting .320 and adding three blocks. Setter Bailey Tanner had plenty of options thanks to UW’s solid passing, and she dished 35 assists with six digs and three blocks and Washington hit .352 overall compared to .176 for Kentucky, which finished the season at 23-8. Tanner went past 2,500 career assists during the match, and moved to eighth on UW’s career assists list with 2,508.
After serving up nine aces in their first round win last night against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Huskies were sharp with their serving again tonight, earning six aces compared to just one for the Wildcats, who were ranked 24th in the final AVCA coaches poll this week. Freshman Kara Bajema had two aces, plus five kills and a team-high five blocks, as UW also led the final blocking totals, 8.0 to 5.0.
“Kentucky is an outstanding young team, a team that’s going to be returning a lot of great players, and competing at the top of the SEC for a long time,” said Head Coach Keegan Cook. “I thought we played well in all phases of the game, which you don’t always get every night. So we had some great results mostly because of how on top of their assignments (our players) were. I’m really happy for this team and think that they’ve got some more work to do here heading to Lincoln.”
The current run of five trips to the Sweet 16 or better is a new program best for Washington. The Huskies reached the Sweet 16 in 2012, the Final Four in 2013, the Sweet 16 in 2014, and the Elite Eight last year. Cook was an assistant coach for the 2013-14 years, and now head coach for the past two. He and the Huskies are excited for another chance to “make memories.”
“I love absolutely everything about (going to Lincoln),” said Cook. “You don’t come to Washington to play in front of small crowds or in matches that aren’t meaningful. So everyone here is getting what they signed up for, and I hope they all soak it in. It’s going to be so much fun.”
The Dawgs took the first serve-receive and Tanner set Schwan for a kill on her first swing. Jones and Niece had a booming block down for a 4-3 Husky lead. A couple errors from the Cats made it 6-3 Dawgs. Kara Bajemalasered her first kill out of the middle for 7-4. A dump from Tanner kept the lead at three at 9-6. Bajema got an ace off the top of the net for 11-6 and the Wildcats took the first timeout. Tanner aced the Wildcats to push the lead to 13-7. Jones got one down off the block from the left pin for 14-8. The third ace of the set came from Schwan for a 15-8 advantage and UK used its final timeout. Kentucky got a kill off a phantom touch call on the Huskies, and pulled within five, with Scambray finishing off the block for a big point for 16-10. The Wildcats took the next three points to close to 16-13 and the Huskies needed their first timeout. Scambray got a key kill out of the timeout. Another scramble play was ended by Scambray stepping way inside the pin to finish a Tanner bump set for 18-13. Schwan tooled the block smartly for 20-15. Kentucky came back with a pair but Schwan hit one up the line to the corner for 21-17. Again Kentucky scored twice to shave the lead down to 21-19 and the Huskies used their final timeout. Out of the break, Destiny Julye got her first kill for 22-19, but Kentucky came back with a kill in serve-receive. Jones sent one down from the right side for 23-20. The Wildcats wanted a double on Tanner but it wasn’t called, and instead Jones finished to get the Huskies to set point at 24-21. Jones then stepped back and floated an ace off the defender to end it, 25-21, as UW registered its fourth ace of the frame. The teams hit matching .242 percentages in the set, with Schwan posting four kills to lead the Dawgs.
The Huskies got out to a quick start in the second set, highlighted by an epic rally where Tanner, McPherson, and Scambray all had big digs to let Schwan then hit off the block for a kill that thrilled the crowd. Jones had a big blast, and then Julye dialed up an ace for a 5-2 lead. Washington’s block cornered Kentucky for two big stuff blocks, Bajema assisting on both, as the Dawgs pushed the lead to 8-3 and forced UK into a timeout. Scambray kept the run going with a kill off the block following a McPherson dig. Scambray put two more away in transition from the left as the Dawgs kept surging on the serve of Jones. Bajema hit down an overdig to make it 12-3, and UK used its last timeout as the Dawgs were on a 6-0 run. Kentucky snapped the run out of the break but Bajema answered right back with a slide kill, and then she and Tanner roofed the Wildcats for a 10-point lead at 14-4. Another Wildcat overpass off a Scambray serve was hit down by Schwan for 15-4. An ace from Bajema kept the Dawgs rolling right along up 18-5. Niece and Tanner stuffed another Kentucky swing straight back down, and then Schwan terminated in transition as everything kept clicking for the Dawgs, up 21-5. A Wildcat error had the Huskies their first set point at 24-9. Kentucky saved a pair, but Scambray ended it with a kill down inside the block for the 25-11 win. Washington posted stats equal to the score, hitting .520 with 15 kills and just 2 errors on 25 swings, while Kentucky had eight kills and eight errors to hit .000. Schwan and Scambray each had five kills in the set without an error.
Tanner collected the first point of the third set herself with a dump for a kill. Washington strung three more together for the early 4-0 lead as Schwan hit down an overpass and Jones killed one up the line from the right. Jones slid to the middle and connected again for 5-1. Tanner sailed a bump set from well off the court over to Scambray who took a rip and found Kentucky’s hands for another kill for 7-2. Bajema added two more kills as the Dawgs took a 10-4 lead to force Kentucky to take time. The teams traded sideouts, with Schwan hitting off the block for 13-6. The Wildcats mounted a rally with a 3-0 run to cut the Husky lead to 13-9 and UW took its first timeout. Kentucky cut one more off the lead before Jones hit off the block and out on UW’s side for 14-10. A huge roof put down by Jones on the right got UW back up five at 16-11 and Kentucky took its second timeout. Two points went to the Cats out of the break, but Jones answered with a right side finish for 17-13. Two Kentucky errors made it 19-14 Dawgs. Schwan used the block again in serve-receive for a kill and then she and Niece combined for a rejection to make it 21-15. Schwan buried another crosscourt on a perfect Tanner set for 22-16, but Kentucky mounted another rally with three in a row to cut the Husky lead in half to 22-19 and UW used its final timeout. Out of the break, Schwan broke out her roll shot for one of the few times all match to get the sideout, and then Scambray brought the Dawgs to match point at 24-19. Kentucky saved the first with a block but then served into the net to finish it off, 25-20. The Dawgs hit .294 in the final set with Kentucky at .259. Jones was on a roll in the third with six kills on a .417 percentage.