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Huskies blast Colorado to complete weekend sweep

Nelson Colorado

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Junior Kaleigh Nelson led the Huskies in kills Sunday against Colorado, notching 13 in the sweep of the Buffaloes. 

Photo by Anastasia Stepankowsky

On a night when the legendary Courtney Thompson had her number retired, this year’s Washington women’s volleyball team continued to build a legend of its own. 

The No. 3 Huskies (19-1, 11-1 Pac-12) thoroughly dominated Colorado (15-7, 7-7) winning 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-19) and maintaining their lead in the Pac-12 standings.

It was one of the most complete matches the UW has put together in a while, as it played well in every phase of the game. The UW offense was sizzling early on, hitting more than .400 in both the first and second set and committing only three hitting errors. The UW slipped a bit with a big lead in the third set, but the overall match was far cleaner than the previous one against the Colorado Buffaloes on Oct. 4, its only loss of the season.

“There wasn’t a revenge factor, it was more like business as usual,” setter Jenni Nogueras said. “We understood that prior match wasn’t who we are, so we just had to get back to playing like ourselves.”

Kaleigh Nelson, who continued her consistently strong play with a team-high 13 kills, led the way for the Huskies. Krista Vansant also chipped in 10 kills, along with 12 digs and three aces.

The UW’s defensive performance was even more impressive, as the Huskies held the Buffaloes to a .118 hitting percentage. Colorado’s star outside hitter Taylor Simpson only managed 10 kills on 33 swings and racked up 10 errors after torching the Huskies in the previous meeting. Colorado committed 20 hitting errors as a team.

“It was collective, a good team effort with everyone doing their jobs,” head coach Jim McLaughlin. “We can put a lot of pressure when we do that, and then it’s just a matter of discipline, and the girls are doing a really good job with it.”

Once again, the Huskies received critical contributions from their middle blockers. Lianna Sybeldon was again a force offensively with six kills on 12 swings, adding seven block assists.

Melanie Wade produced one of the most impressive performances. The sophomore middle blocker got involved in every phase of the game with four digs, two block assists, and one ace. She also got involved offensively with six kills on 10 swings.

“I think the setters did a great job of getting me the ball tonight, and in transition I was able to take advantage of bad passes,” Wade said.

The UW set the tone early by racing out to a 5-0 lead. Colorado never recovered, losing the set 25-18. Things didn’t get any easier in the second set, as the UW hit .478 compared to Colorado’s .080 and won comfortably 25-15 before finishing up the sweep 25-19 in the third.

Friday’s match against Utah went much differently. The Utes outhit, outblocked, and outdug the Huskies, but the UW was able to win 3-1 behind stellar serving and several Utah mistakes.

Nelson had one of her best offensive matches of the season against a stellar Utah block. She was set to 42 times, connecting for 20 kills.

The Huskies will take the next two days off then prepare for a road trip to the desert that begins Saturday against Arizona State at 11 a.m.

Reach reporter Nathaniel Reeves at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @njr3701

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