The 2023 Volleyball season has officially wound down and in her first year, Coach Leslie Gabriel found a rocky road holding off the slippery slope at 16-15 (7-14).
After an initial moment of hope, the Dawgs dropped their second loss of the season, getting swept by Pepperdine. The conference schedule started with the Dawgs already at 9-2, but those two losses were relatively brutal for Husky nation to see. In her first season, Gabriel played without star player Emoni Bush and started a wing of inexperienced Freshman making her success more impressive.
On a roll, the Huskies started Pac-12 play with a match against the Washington State Cougars for the start of the territorial rivalry. One of the best teams in CVB, the Cougars promptly swept the Huskies setting them up for two more losses against the Sun Devils and ascending Ducks.
Hosting Stanford, on a week when all Huskies saw them at the bye of the football team, the Huskies sought to carry their momentum from a win against the Beavers. A Stanford team vying for national titles had an initial slip before taking care of the Huskies. This was also the part of the season that saw Kierstyn Barton (Fresh.) break onto the scene.
The Dawgs ripped off three straight victories, the best of which came when they brought in the mountain teams. Eventually, injuries would catch up with this otherwise thrilling squad and as Many Pertovsky and Lauren Bays dealt with embattling circumstances, the Huskies lost four consecutive games. This stretch included a heart breaker to Oregon that closed out a season sweep at the hands of the Washington nemesis.
The UW Dawg Pound thanks each one of the Seniors to complete their college life at Montlake including Kayce Litzau, Grace Zilbert, and favorite May Pertovsky.
For the first time we here at the Dawg Pound will award to titles to players starting with Dawg Pound Player of the Year: Madi Endsley. The six-foot-two outside hitter from California was an outstanding force for the team, stepping up in the biggest moments. Regularly it was her passion and energy that carried the Washington Huskies. She averages 3.1 kills per set in 2023 and 2.75 in her career. She completed this season at a surprising 372 points scored and is only 12.5 from her thousandth.
The second award, Dawg Pound Player of the Future, an underclassmen specific title, will go to Kierstyn Barton who was a kill machine all season averaging 2.79 per set. Fire fueled and perhaps one of the best things to come from Arizona for the Huskies, Barton notched a few Pac-12 Freshman of the week awards along the way and used her athleticism to terrify opponents. She even led her team six times in match kills.
For NCAA awards, Barton and Katy Wessels were awarded Pac-12 All-Freshman and this marks the first time in nine years the Huskies have two players achieve this. Wessels sat at the top of her team 16 times in the category of blocks. Things are looking up for the young team. Gabriel closes out the scene with a loss to Washington State, but this came to a massive crowd of six thousand fans.