Washington Volleyball Celebrates Pac-12 Title After Victory Over Washington State
What a Saturday afternoon for Emma Calle, Samantha Drechsel and Lauren Sanders, senior fifth year UW volleyball players.
It was Senior Day at Alaska Airlines Arena, and they were honored ahead of the Washington State No.12 game, their last home game of the regular season.
Hours later, they were celebrating on the field dressed in Pac-12 championship t-shirts, the band playing “Celebration” and a crowd of 4,079 people cheering wildly.
That’s because with a 22-18, 18-25, 25-18, 25-16 victory over rivals Cougars, the No.12 Huskies (24-4, 17-3 Pac-12) won the Pac-12 title, a game before UCLA.
âWe definitely wanted this one for these guys,â UW coach Keegan Cook said of the three seniors who were honored. âWe’ve had opportunities in the past to play this game on the senior day, and it didn’t go well. For a while it got a little fishy there (after the second set), but I had a lot of confidence that our group would react in the third and fourth sets and, man, did they ever do that. I am really happy for our children.
It was the last home game of the regular season for the Huskies, but if they are one of the 16 seeds when the NCAA tournament ground is selected on Sunday afternoon, UW would host the first two rounds. .
The Huskies, who reached the Final Four last season, enter the NCAA tournament after winning eight straight games and 17 of their last 18 after starting Pac-12 play 0-2.
“Since then (those two losses) we’ve had a lot of wins and we’ve played at a very high level,” said Cook. âThis is the most important thing. We want to do our best in December, and we’re pretty close to that. “
Cook said he believed UW, which was No.18 in the most recent power rankings, would be ranked somewhere between No.12 and No.16.
âI think we deserve more than that, but RPI is a tough system to work with sometimes,â Cook said. âBut we don’t really care, let’s be honest. We can play in front of our fans again (assuming a top 16 seed), and we’re thrilled. “
Drechsel had 17 kills and eight blocks to lead the Huskies. Claire Hoffman added 14 kills and Marin Grote had 12 kills, 0.632 hit percentage and five blocks. Sanders had eight blocks, a high for the team.
Katy Ryan had 15 kills for Washington State (19-11, 13-17).
The RPI’s No.33 Cougars are hoping to secure an overall berth for the NCAA tournament.
The Huskies know they’re in, having secured an automatic bid as conference champions with Saturday’s victory.
âIt was a moment they didn’t have last year,â Cook said of the Pac-12 title win in front of fans after playing in empty arenas last season due to COVID- 19. âIt meant a lot, honestly. These young people are working hard for their university and their community, and they want to share their art with the fans. â¦ It was the environment they deserved to play for a Pac-12 championship.