NCAA women's volleyball: Washington snaps No. 2 Stanford's win streak in four sets
SEATTLE – Washington Volleyball raised Krista Vansant's No. 16 jersey into the Alaska Airlines Arena rafters before tonight's showdown with No. 2 Stanford, and then the Huskies channeled Vansant's fighting spirit throughout a thrilling 3-1 upset win.
The 13th-ranked Huskies (20-6, 10-5 Pac-12) snapped the defending NCAA Champion Cardinal's 16-match win streak with vicious serving from senior Tia Scambray and big swings from Kara Bajema and Crissy Jones.
Vansant, who joined Courtney Thompson as the only women to have their jerseys retired in Alaska Airlines Arena, had to be reminded of one of the highlights of her Husky career, when she led UW over then-No. 1 and undefeated Stanford on her Senior Night back in 2014. Stanford had only lost twice all year, both to No. 1 Penn State, and came in 14-0 in Pac-12 play, but UW had taken the Cardinal (21-3, 14-1) to five sets in the first meeting between the teams at Palo Alto, so the Huskies knew they could compete.
Washington pulled out narrow wins in sets one and three, and pulled away late in set four to get the win, 25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 25-17. Scambray served up a career-high five aces to go with 17 digs, while Bajema backed up her great match at Utah with a team-high 14 kills plus five blocks. Jones added 11 kills and four blocks and hit .364, and sophomore Avie Niece came in with a career-high nine kills, hitting .533. Carly DeHoog had eight kills and Courtney Schwan had seven kills and five blocks in the total team effort.
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The Cardinal outhit the Huskies for the match, .308 to .256, but most of that was due to a second set that saw Stanford hit .600.
Washington matched its season-high with 10 aces tonight and missed just four serves, while the Cardinal had five aces but 14 service errors. UW also edged out Stanford in the blocking battle between the top-ranked squads in the league, as the Huskies had 14 blocks (seven assisted by freshman Lauren Sanders) to Stanford's 12.
"Gritty win by our team," head coach Keegan Cook said. "A lot of credit to Stanford for playing good volleyball. It's not every day you get a win when your opponent's hitting over .300.
"I thought we were pretty resilient, you've heard me say that a lot this year. I told them we didn't have to win all the points, just the right ones. We won a couple deuce sets and then the offense got going the last two sets which was really impressive against one of the best teams in the nation."