Washington tops Bear Grass in thriller

Published 12:47 pm Thursday, October 6, 2016

Washington volleyball coach Kendall Hihn has a cousin fighting breast cancer for the second time, so a 3-2 win over Bear Grass in the team’s “pink” game meant a little more for her and the Lady Pack.

“I texted her daughter earlier in the week and she just got home maybe a couple of weeks ago from being in the hospital for about a month,” Hihn said. “Victories like this when it touches home … when you’ve got little victories like this, it always nice.”

The match itself was a battle throughout, too. It started with Bear Grass scooting by for a 26-24 win in the first set. The Lady Pack had a lead until very late in the set when the visitors took a 23-22 lead. A serving ace by Charity Gardner tied things at 24 apiece before Bear Grass strung together a pair of points for the win.


Gardner continued her strong serving with a pair of aces as Washington jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the second set. Good sets from the likes of Briley Waters and Sarah Lynch helped Megan Moore finish with strong hits along the way, too.

“Setting is like a pass. If you don’t have a good pass, you don’t have a good set. If you don’t have a good set, you don’t get a good hit,” Hihn said. “It’s important when everything is on point. I can rely on Kelli (Cooper) to come in and I’ve got two senior setters. I’m confident with them.”

Bear Grass wasn’t able to bounce back from its early deficit. With an assist from Lynch, freshman Emme Davis earned a kill to push Washington’s lead to 23-12. Davis notched back-to-back aces to finish off the Lady Bears and level the match at 1-1.

“It might have been that we had the serve first,” Hihn said. “I have noticed, in general, we do better when we start out with the serve. We don’t have to fight to get the serve or fight to get the point. When we have the serve, it’s like an automatic reset.”

Washington’s net=front players prepare for a serve from one of their teammates. The Lady Pack donned pink jerseys to support breast cancer awareness.

Washington’s net=front players prepare for a serve from one of their teammates. The Lady Pack donned pink jerseys to support breast cancer awareness.

Bear Grass built a marginal 7-6 lead early on. The Lady Bears never let it go as they won the third set to take a 2-1 lead. Washington, trailing 22-12, came to life late in the set by going on a 6-2 run. Bear Grass called a timeout and quickly notched the last point it needed for the win.

Like the valiant women Washington’s pink jerseys showed support for, the Lady Pack rallied with consecutive set wins to earn the victory. Much like in the second set, Gardner’s top-notch serving helped create an early lead. She had three aces in a row as her side stormed out to an early 10-3 lead.

Bear Grass didn’t go away. The Lady Bears came within five points, 18-13, but Washington called a timeout and finished them off, 25-16.

Lynch set the tone in the deciding fifth set. She earned Washington the set’s first point with an ace. The two sides jousted until Summer Campbell’s set and Moore’s kill pushed Washington to an 8-5 lead. The three-point lead wasn’t much, but it proved to be quite a momentum swing in set that only requires 15 points to win.

Another serving ace by Gardner proved to be the match point. It earned Washington a 15-10 win in the set and 3-2 win in the match.