By Eric Branch
Daily Bruin Staff
The third-ranked UCLA women’s volleyball team assumed that the University of Washington knew its proper place in the hierarchy of Pacific-10 volleyball.
However, after Friday night’s grueling 15-3, 12-15, 14-16, 15-6, 17-15 victory over last season’s ninth-place conference finishers in Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins (12-1 overall, 3-0 in Pac-10) might be taking less for granted.
“It was a little tougher than expected,” UCLA head coach Andy Banachowski said. “We played inconsistent volleyball tonight.”
The Huskies (8-5, 3-2) have never beaten the Bruins and came into Westwood with a 0-24 record against UCLA. No. 25 Washington played the first game as if loss was inevitable. The Huskies posted a paltry .045 hitting percentage to UCLA’s robust .524 in the 15-3 thrashing which lasted all of 12 minutes.
However, the Bruins’ Friday night plans were put on hold as the Huskies captured the next two games, 15-12 and 16-14. Washington relied on the right arms of junior outside hitter Dragana Djordevic (26 kills) and sophomore outside hitter Angela Bransom (23 kills) to take the unexpected advantage over UCLA.
“We might have let down a little after the first game,” sophomore middle blocker Kim Krull conceded. “We expected them to die but they didn’t.”
Krull, who finished the two-hour and 25-minute match with 14 kills and five blocks, led the spirited comeback.
“Kim did a great job of getting us into it,” said senior outside hitter Annett Buckner (18 kills,12 digs). “She never let up all night.”
The Bruins began the fourth game with freshman setter Kim Coleman in the game for sophomore Kelly Flannigan. The result was a 15-6 game which resembled the first game. The frame was punctuated by two successive Krull blocks of Djordjevic.
“I put in (Coleman) to change up our tempo,” Banachowski said. “They seemed to be getting in sync with our offense.”
The fifth game, played under rally scoring with a point being scored on each play, saw the Bruins race out to a 14-10 lead on the strength of three Buckner kills and four Washington hitting errors. However, the never-say-die Huskies fought off four match points, eventually knotting the score at 15.
“I looked up at the scoreboard and I couldn’t believe it,” Krull said. “It seemed like we were up by so much all game. It was scary.”
After nearly two hours the Bruins finally got a wakeup call. After a Djordjevic smash narrowly missed the baseline for 16-15, junior outside hitter Jenny Johnson drilled it in the vacated right corner for the match.