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Volleyball Survives an Up and Down Invitational

Cal Poly’s home opener did not disappoint for Washington fans

UW Volleyball

The lights illuminated Cal Poly’s home opener, and the Huskies managed to secure a victory over the Mustangs, albeit with a bit of shakiness in the process. The weekend featured three matches, each showcasing its own spectacular moments. Let’s delve into the first one. After dropping the initial set 22-25, the Huskies found themselves in need of a massive comeback.

And that’s exactly what they delivered.

However, this extraordinary effort came from an unexpected source. Freshman outside hitter Kierstyn Barton, who didn’t start the game, emerged as a force to be reckoned with, tallying an astonishing 26 kills. To put this into perspective, one of our top players, May Pertovsky, typically averages 11 kills per game, making Barton’s performance truly exceptional. While it’s unlikely to be the norm going forward, it does leave one pondering what the match would have looked like without this Herculean effort.

Entering the fifth set, the Huskies found themselves trailing 7-10 and needing more than skill to win. Once they did, they had little time to celebrate as they then faced their second of three tournament opponents shortly thereafter. This victory marked their very first win in the Mott Athletics Center arena.

The second match against Pepperdine didn’t go as planned, ending their winning streak. Nevertheless, it was far from an ordinary match. May Pertovsky, a name frequently associated with excellence in this sport, erupted for 18 kills, only the second time she achieved this feat this season. The team’s hitting percentage hit a dismal season low at .119, a challenging statistic to bounce back from, especially as Pepperdine attacked with an impressive .305.

Despite being outmatched and losing in a sweep, Washington volleyball managed to secure more blocks, with 9 compared to Pepperdine’s 8. Unfortunately, the strong defense couldn’t compensate for the struggles on offense.

Looking ahead, the Huskies closed out the weekend with a 3-1 victory over St. Mary’s, earning 44 assists for Kayce Liatzu and 17 kills for Madi Endsley. However, what made this victory particularly special for the Huskies was a notable achievement by senior Grace Zilbert. Zilbert, a transfer from Portland, embarked on this journey as a true freshman in 2019. In the shortened 2020 season, she set a personal record with 24 digs.

From Pertovsky to Endsley and Coach Leslie Gabriel, this Husky team is coming together at the right time, boasting a 9-2 record to start the season. Next weekend, they have a single match against Washington State, and fans can expect them to unleash their full power.