Oregon State’s Haylie Bennett grew up in Philomath hearing stories about the exploits of her mother, former Beaver great Helen Hoonhout.
Now she’s writing her own story. The redshirt freshman outside hitter had nine kills, three assisted blocks and 10.5 points on Wednesday night as the Beavers crushed Arizona 3-0 in a Pacific-12 Conference match before a Gill Coliseum crowd of 1,272.
Set scores were 25-11, 25-15, 25-18.
“Since I was a little kid, I always told her I wanted to come here and beat her records,” said Bennett, who hit .421 (9-19) in helping the surging Beavers (14-7, 4-5) to their third consecutive Pac-12 win.
“It’s a little different now, since we don’t play the same position, but I think it’s fun. Now I get to make my own route in this journey. And I still have her for insight and advice, which is nice.
“I’ve never seen video of my mom,” who lettered from 1987-90. “But she used to play on women’s teams, so I’ve been going to her tournaments since I was a little girl,” and she realizes how good her mother was.
Bennett was far from a one-woman wrecking crew. Senior Mary-Kate Marshall led the Beavers for the 19th time in 21 matches with 11 kills, six digs, three blocks and two aces; freshman Maddie Goings added 11 digs, seven kills and a block and Santiam Christian grad Maddy Gravely hit .556 with six kills and four blocks.
“It helps so much when all the parts click, we just roll,” Bennett added. “We’ve gotten more confident as a team, comfortable playing together and we’ve come to the realization that we can play with these teams, not just compete but beat them.
“People are starting to believe that, and believe in ourselves.”
Coach Mark Barnard said the difference on Wednesday was OSU’s outstanding floor defense. OSU had 45 digs, led by junior Kayla Ellis (12) and Goings (11). Six Beavers had at least four.
“The energy we get out of that makes us play better and we wear teams down by putting the ball back on them repeatedly,” he said. “Even at this level, as good as the Pac-12 is, teams make mistakes.
“We hang in there long enough,” extending rallies. “We’ll kill the odd ball, but we just put a lot of pressure on the other team.
“The other thing we’ve improved is our serving. So, we take [opponents] out of their best system and that makes it a lot easier for us defensively.”
Having five players with five or more kills was also important.
“Every team scouts Mary-Kate,” Barnard said. “That opens opportunities everywhere else, and enables us to score on the right side or in the middle.
“Then, they have to adjust what they are doing defensively, and that opens things up for Mary-Kate again, and away she goes. Us spreading the ball around helps her, and helps us. Not many teams we play do anything but look after her.”
OSU started quickly, hitting .469 (18-32) while destroying the Wildcats 25-11 in the first set. It led 6-3 when redshirt junior middle blocker Kory Cheshire served eight points in a row to expand the advantage to 14-3, and Arizona did not get closer than 10 points from then on out.
Marshall had seven kills, Goings, Bennett and Gravely three each. Gravely was perfect on her three attempts; Marshall was 7-for-11 (.636), Bennett 3-for-5 (.600).
The Beavers carried that momentum into the second set and cruised to a 25-15 victory. The key swing came with freshman libero Grace Massey serving, as they turned a 13-8 lead into an insurmountable 18-8 advantage. Gravely had two kills, Bennett a kill and a block to lead the 5-0 spurt.
Arizona hung tough in the final set before the Beavers used a 6-1 run to turn an 11-9 lead into a 17-11 advantage, and a 4-1 run to build a 21-12 lead. Arizona got within six at 24-18 before committing a match-ending service error.
The Beavers have won three consecutive conference matches for the first time since 2001. Their last four-match winning streak came in 1990, Hoonhout’s senior season.
Bennett said defeating Washington in five sets in Seattle on Oct. 13 — OSU’s first win over the Huskies since 2001 — was a huge confidence booster. They then topped Washington State in five sets on Oct. 15 for their first sweep in Washington since 1990.
“That’s just one weekend, though,” she cautioned. “We have to learn to play like that every single weekend. We proved to ourselves we can beat those [good] teams, because we did.”
The Beavers host Arizona State at 6 p.m. Friday in their next match. They conclude a four-match homestand against Utah and Colorado on Oct. 27-28.