Volleyball players and coaches alike say it’s never easy to regain your composure after winning the first two sets, only to be forced to play a fifth.
But Oregon State found a way Friday night at Gill Coliseum.
Riding a strong late-season run, the Beavers created the last big push of the Pac-12 volleyball match and held off No. 10 Washington in five sets for the second time this season.
Set scores were 26-24, 25-20, 21-25, 19-25, 15-13.
“It’s definitely hard to gain the momentum back, but I think it all came from our energy,” OSU junior middle blocker Maddy Gravley said of her team, which improved to 4-1 in five-set matches, all in conference. “The second two sets we have very, very low energy. In the fifth we just said, ‘hey, whatever, you’ve got nothing to lose, it’s 2-2, 0-0, let’s go out and win it.’”
The fifth set went back and forth, with the Beavers (20-9, 10-7) gaining the first big edge at 5-2. Kory Cheshire had a service ace along with Mary-Kate Marshall and Haylie Bennett kills in that stretch.
The Huskies (21-7, 11-6) came back to tie the score three times and took a 9-7 lead on a 3-0 run. Washington held the lead until a Maddie Goings kill tied it at 10-10.
The visitors went back ahead on a Lauren Sanders kill, but OSU controlled the momentum from there.
Cheshire and Gravley had consecutive kills. The Huskies got a point on a hitting error, but a Marshall tip for a point and a wayward shot by Washington’s Crissy Jones put the Beavers at match point.
The Huskies fended it off for a few moments with a block, but Marshall’s team-high 15th kill gave the Beavers a second straight win against the Huskies following a 27-match losing streak to UW dating back to 2001.
OSU is now 9-2 on a stretch that began with a five-set win at Washington on Oct. 13.
“Confidence is huge for us,” said Marshall, a senior outside hitter who added 12 digs. “To be able to start that off in Washington and carry that over, I think it’s just helped our confidence.”
Goings had 14 kills and 24 digs, Cheshire 11 kills, Gravley 10 kills and five block assists and Bennett nine kills and two block assists.
Beavers coach Mark Barnard singled out the ball distribution of freshman setter Kylee McLaughlin, who had 47 assists, seven kills, 14 digs and two block assists.
“The setting for us has really been a big factor,” the coach said.
Kara Bajema had 22 kills and Courtney Schwan 14 kills and 31 digs for Washington, which was coming off a home sweep of No. 2 Stanford and California.
Entering the night tied for fifth in a difficult Pac-12, the Beavers have made themselves a strong contender for the NCAA tournament field, which will be announced Nov. 26.
OSU will try to carry its momentum into a 3 p.m. Sunday home match against Washington State. The Beavers finish the regular season at home next week versus UCLA and Oregon.
With the victory, Oregon State bettered its combined conference win total of the past two seasons by one.
Marshall said she’s thankful for one last strong run to end her collegiate career.
“We’ve worked so hard the past couple years and it just hasn’t gone our way,” she said. “To work this hard and get to my senior year and have this great season, it’s awesome. I love it.”
Barnard has seen the confidence grow in his players, some of whom contributed to the 2014 NCAA Sweet 16 run and others who are experiencing success at this level for the first time.
Barnard, in his second year as head coach and 13th in the program, is enjoying the newfound success.
“It’s like when you’re sick and you get healthy again,” he said. “You feel good. You go, ‘oh, my God, this is the best I’ve ever felt. It’s like that.”
Oregon State took a 3-2 lead to open the match and held the lead until late in the first set.
Washington closed within two points three times and within one six times, the last at 23-22. The Huskies would score three straight and lead 24-23.
The Beavers fought off the Washington set point with a Marshall kill. A Huskies hitter error and a Cheshire service ace gave the set to Oregon State.
OSU rebounded from an early 4-2 deficit with a 5-0 run. Washington tied the score five times, the last at 14-all, before the Beavers broke away for good.
Bennett and Gravley made big plays down the stretch to keep OSU out front. The Beavers led 19-15 before the teams alternated points the rest of the way.
A Cheshire block got Oregon State to 24 and a Washington service error ended it.
The Huskies took control of the third set early on. They led 4-0, 9-4 and later 15-8.
The Beavers got back into it with a 5-0 run thanks to four Washington errors. But the Huskies answered with four straight.
Washington went ahead 22-15 when OSU answered with a 5-1 run. But three points was as close as the Beavers would get.
The Huskies led the fourth set 5-3 after a 2-0 run. The Beavers kept it close before eventually tying it at 14-all on consecutive kills by Goings and Gravley.
Washington came back with a 7-0 run, stealing all the momentum, and OSU got no closer than five from there.