BOISE, Idaho -- Continuing to ride the red-hot arms of seniors Krista Vansant and Kaleigh Nelson, the fourth-ranked Washington volleyball team swept Boise State, 3-0, Saturday at Bronco Gym to win the Northwest Challenge. Washington was pushed to five sets earlier in the day by Gonzaga, but hit at a .542 clip to knock off the Broncos, 25-19, 25-15, 25-17.
Washington has now won the Northwest Challenge for the seventh time. The competion rotates each year between UW, Boise State, Gonzaga and Portland State. Washington head coach Jim McLaughlin was pleased with the way the Huskies handled adversity during the five-setter earlier in the day, responding with their best match of the weekend."Teams will play well against us, they have nothing to lose and they play loose," McLaughlin said. "We're mixing some parts right now. ... To be able to have the composure in the fifth game against Gonzaga, it will serve us well down the road."
The Huskies tied a school record by committing just one attacking error all match, getting 40 kills on 72 attempts. Vansant led all players with 14 kills on 18 swings without an error for a career-high .778 attack percentage, while Nelson had eight kills on 13 swings for a .615 mark, adding that to her career-high 26 kills from earlier in the day.
McLaughlin said his senior outside hitters are beginning to expect more from themselves. "I'm always impressed with them, and they're going to get more from themselves as the season progresses. ... We just became more aggressive as the weekend went."
The first set was a back-and-forth battle, with Vansant picking up the first two Husky kills and Wade serving an early ace for a 4-3 lead. Wade converted on a slide for UW's first point of the second set. A rejection by Vansant and Wade caught BSU's Maddy O'Donnell on the way down for an early 4-1 lead. An ace from Katy Beals made it 2-2 early in the third set but Boise then went on a 3-0 run to take its biggest lead of the night. The Huskies then rallied to retake the lead, sweeping Boise in consecutive sets.
Washington heads on the road to face No. 9 BYU Friday in Provo, Utah.