Huskies advance in NCAA volleyball tournament with high efficiency in home victory

Facing an opponent that had only one player taller than 6-foot-1 on its roster, the Huskies overpowered the Northeast Conference champions 25-10, 25-13, 25-18 while hitting a glittering .478 for the night.

It was a good start to what Washington volleyball coach Keegan Cook hopes is a grand finish.

In a display of high efficiency and low drama, the Washington volleyball team won a first-round match in the NCAA tournament for the 16th consecutive year, dominating Long Island University Brooklyn 3-0 Friday night in front of 2,814 spectators at home.

Facing an opponent that had only one player taller than 6-foot-1, the eighth-seeded Huskies (25-7) overpowered the Northeast Conference champions 25-10, 25-13, 25-18 while hitting a season-best .478.

Washington committed only six errors while recording 49 kills on 90 attacks, put up seven blocks to just one by LIU Brooklyn (20-10), and knocked down 10 aces, four by senior libero Tia Scambray.

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“I thought we played really well, only having two errors per set with 10 aces,” Cook said. “If we’re playing at that high of a standard, it’s going to be tough for any team to win.

“In this match, I’m trying to have us make four or five more plays. That means we made a lot of good ones if I’m only thinking of four or five plays after the match is over.

“I’m challenging them to make one or two more plays in these (early tournament) matches, because I intend us to be playing for two more weeks (when the Final Four occurs). I like their attitude, I like their effort, and they’re not even close to how good they’re going to be playing in two weeks.”

First, the Huskies will play Illinois (22-10) Saturday at 7 p.m. for the right to advance to the round of 16. In what started out as a runaway and turned into a nail-biter, Illinois withstood a late surge by Hawaii (20-8) to win in five sets, 25-18, 25-17, 13-25, 24-26, 15-10. Jacqueline Quade led the Fighting Illini with 15 kills. Beth Prince and Megan Cooney each finished with 10. Ali Bastianelli had four of her nine kills in the final set.

Against Illinois, UW will face a tall, youthful squad with just one senior. The Illini tied for fifth in the Big Ten and defeated Minnesota, the tournament’s No. 7 seed, on Nov. 18. Cook calls 6-2 Illinois junior Jordyn Poulter, an All-Big Ten selection, “One of the best setters in the country. She has the skill to…

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