SEATTLE – The Huskies certainly saved their best for last. After dropping the first two sets to an Oregon squad that came out fired up, Washington hit the reset button and took sets three and four before surging out to a big fifth set lead and holding on for the thrilling 3-2 victory. The 11th-ranked Huskies hit .455 in the fifth set to turn back the Ducks 23-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-18, 15-11 in front of a vocal crowd of 3,558 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
It is Washington's first comeback from down 0-2 since Sept. 23 of 2018 when they completed the comeback at Oregon State. The Huskies improved to 13-3 with the win and 4-2 in Pac-12 play while the Ducks dropped to 5-10 and 1-5.
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"Great match," said Head Coach Keegan Cook. "A classic Pac-12 rivalry match. Really impressed by Oregon's ability to run a new lineup and do well in it, and mostly serve and pass and defend, I thought they were outstanding. We lost the serve and pass for long stretches tonight. But really impressive resilience from our team. We've been in this situation before where we're not playing well and we know it, but we had yet to kind of climb ourselves out of it, so I'm really happy for the kids to have that in their backpack now."
After hitting .429 as a team on Friday night in the sweep of Oregon State, the Huskies were held to just .199 tonight but they continued to defend their side of the court and limited Oregon to just .148 on offense. Oregon had a strong serving match with nine aces compared to four for the Dawgs while UW finished with one more block than the Ducks, 10-9. The Huskies had 10 more total kills, 60 to 50.
Senior Shayne McPherson dug up 21 balls and matched her career-high with 10 assists for the second double-double of her career, and junior Lauren Sanders posted six blocks, two in the fifth set. Another double-double came from Ella May Powell who set 42 assists and added 10 digs and two aces.
"We got better every set after the second … to hit .455 in the last set says a lot," said Cook. "Kara took some really courageous swings. I thought Lauren Sanders was really big blocking tonight, she wasn't having a great night offensively, but she affected the game defensively so that was a big deal. Then Sam Drechsel, what can you say? Getting her the ball, she carried us through those last three sets for sure."
UP NEXT: Washington sticks around town for another week to host Arizona State and Arizona next weekend, with the Sun Devils up first next Friday, Oct. 18, and then the Wildcats on Sunday at 12 noon.
SET 1: Oregon got the first point with an ace but the Huskies scored the next three on two kills from Niece and a Bajema blast. Oregon aced the Huskies twice in a row and got a third on a Husky overpass that was killed for 4-7 Ducks. An Oregon block and a Husky hitting error made it 5-10 and the Huskies needed timeout. Down seven, Bajema got a kill from the back row, and then she laid out for a dig that led to a Claire Hoffman kill for 8-13. A couple errors by the Ducks and a Drechsel right side finish crept the Huskies back to 14-17 and forced the first Oregon timeout. Oregon got a kill in serve-receive out of the break but Bajema answered for 15-18. The teams then traded sideouts with the Dawgs continuing to get within two points but Oregon responding to go back up three. Oregon left an attack short as the Huskies got within one for the first time at 21-22, and Oregon used its last timeout. Out of the break, the Ducks just snuck a mishit through the block for 21-23, but Hoffman blasted one back on the next point, and then Oregon hit into the net for a 23-23 tie. UW had a swing for the lead but Oregon blocked it for set point at 23-24 and the Huskies called their final timeout. On the next point, McPherson covered a block and Niece tried to set it with one hand but it went too far wide and Bajema couldn't keep it in play as the Huskies fell short after rallying all the way back from seven points down.
The Huskies hit .190 in the set compared to .179 for the Ducks but Oregon had four aces while UW had none, and the Ducks had three blocks to zero for the Dawgs.
SET 2: Kills by Niece and Drechsel got the Huskies started in the second set. Sanders got UW's first block of the match for 4-3 and then Maria Bogomolova had UW's first ace for 6-4. The Ducks tied it at 9-9 but a Bajema kill off a McPherson bump set made it 11-9 Dawgs. Hoffman put one away off the block from the back row for 14-12. But the Huskies then missed one long followed by two long rallies going Oregon's way for 14-15 at the media timeout. The Huskies then made two more errors and Oregon won another rally for a sixth-straight point and the Huskies called timeout. Washington made no runs this time around, hurting itself with attacking and service errors as Oregon reached set point at 19-24. The Huskies saved two but Oregon blocked Bajema on the third to end it, 21-25.
Washington hit just .058 in the second set while the Ducks hit .227.
The Huskies used a 5-0 run to retake the lead as Niece had a solo block and then also killed an overpass during the run. Oregon tied it back up at 15-all, but Bajema and Niece teamed for a big stuff for 16-15. Sanders and Drechsel then blocked a second straight for a two-point lead, and Bajema pounced on an overpass to spiked it down for a third straight point. Drechsel tooled the Oregon block for a 19-16 lead. The Huskies got a bit of a break as Oregon saved one and sailed the ball high over the net but it just grazed the scoreboard which ended the rally. Oregon challenged unsuccessfully, and on the next rally, Hoffman went off the block for 22-18 and the Ducks took timeout. An Oregon serving error and a swing into the net made it 24-19 Huskies. Another Oregon service miss ended it, 25-20.
The Huskies fared better offensively in the third, hitting .261 compared to .087 for the Ducks. Oregon donated six service errors to UW in the frame.
SET 4: Bajema from the back row and Hoffman from the right had it 2-2 in the fourth. Hoffman nailed an ace to the back line and then McPherson bumped to Bajema who rocketed it to the floor for 4-2. Oregon had a 3-0 run but Niece ended that with a quick kill for 5-all. An Oregon double and a Bajema transition kill completed a UW 3-0 run back. McPherson flew for a dig and Shannon Crenshaw found Bajema for a big kill for 8-6. The Huskies made two errors as Oregon pushed back up by one, but Bajema knotted it at 10 with a blast on the pipe set. Powell then aced the Ducks for 12-11. Oregon missed serve and then missed wide on a quick for 15-13 Dawgs at the media timeout. Sanders stuffed down two Oregon swings in three points for 17-14. Bajema had a shot up the line that was initially called wide but on a UW challenge it was reversed and called on the line for 19-14. Bajema tooled the block on the left for 20-16. Powell dialed up a timely ace off the defense for 23-18 and the Ducks used their final timeout. Out of the break, Drechsel finished from the right for set point at 24-18. Drechsel finished again on the next rally to end it, 25-18.
Washington outhit Oregon, .219 to .067, in the fourth, as Bajema racked up a huge eight kills hitting .312.
SET 5: The Ducks got the first point of the fifth but Niece responded with a quick strike from Powell. Sanders stuffed one for a 4-2 lead. A wild rally with several tight battles at the net was finally ended when McPherson bumped to Drechsel who put it off the defense and out back on UW's side and Oregon called timeout at 5-2. Out of the break, Powell dug one and Crenshaw bumped a no-look set over her head to Bajema who went off the block for 6-2. Drechsel destroyed one past the block straight to the floor for 7-3. A big dig from Bajema let Powell find Hoffman for a transition kill to make it 9-4 and Oregon took its final timeout. UW kept the momentum with a big stuff from Sanders and Hoffman out of the break for 10-4. Bajema served long to snap the 3-0 run but Powell picked the perfect time to attack on two on the next point for a kill, making it 11-5. Oregon pushed back with a 3-0 run for 11-8, acing the Huskies to force a timeout. The Ducks got a block to cut it to two points but Hoffman rolled one over and down to snap the 4-0 run and make it 12-9. Oregon sent over a free ball and Bajema went to pass it up to the net but passed it too far, only it took the Ducks by surprise and it fell in for an excuse-me kill for 13-10. On the next point, Bajema got one the more conventional way, crushing a McPherson set to reach match point at 14-10. UW served long on the first chance, but on the next, Bajema passed to Powell who set Niece for a big swing off the block and down and the Huskies had completed the comeback, 15-11.
Washington saved its best for last, hitting .455 in the fifth while Oregon hit .105. Drechsel killed all three of her swings while Bajema had four kills and Sanders had the two big early blocks.