CORVALLIS, Ore. — Another win for the No. 14 Washington volleyball team, another standard game for Kara Bajema.
Twenty kills to lead the way, hitting nearly .450, throwing in a team-high 15 digs in the UW’s four-set win over Oregon State. Ho-hum.
“We all trust her so much to do her job,” junior hitter Sam Drechsel said after the game. “It’s really cool to see her having such success.”
The Huskies especially trusted the senior out of Lynden down the stretch at Gill Coliseum, as Oregon hung around a bit to long for comfort in the fourth set. After an OSU error broke a 17-17 tie, the Huskies started setting Bajema more and more, and she wrapped the match up with four of the UW’s final seven points.
That run included the final blow, after a mini OSU rally narrowed the UW lead to 24-23. Needing the next point to keep the set from going to extra points, the Huskies called Bajema’s number. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t even in the front row.
“I really wanted that one, and my team was really counting on me on that last play,” Bajema said.
So Washington ran a “bick” right out of the serve. Sophomore setter Ella May Powell took the dig a few steps behind the attack line and put the ball straight up. Bajema took three steps, then went up, hammering the ball 3 meters away from the net, off of the OSU block and straight down into the Beavers’ side of the court.
“She’s just super awesome and super aggressive,” Drechsel said.
Bajema finished with her fifth game reaching 20 kills this season. She’s on 388 this season; if she averages 15 per game, she’ll end the regular season in the top-10 best seasons in UW history.
But Bajema’s game was much more than her final kills line. Even that doesn’t tell the full story, as she worked more line shots from the side to go with her usual angle kills and the bicks that have become her signature this season. Those 15 digs aren’t normal for your typical No. 1 option on offense, but that’s been the usual this year for Bajema, who is second on the team in digs behind libero Shayne McPherson, and who leads the UW’s hitters by nearly 70.
“Kara loves the game and she’s a competitor,” head coach Keegan Cook said. “It seems like she gets passionate about different parts of her game all the time and defense is something that I think she really enjoys playing after not doing it for her entire career. It’s fun to see someone be in love with the game and be a student in all aspects of it.”
It’s the second time this season that Bajema has led the Huskies in both kills and digs.
Throw in three blocks and one of Washington’s four aces, and you have one of the best all-around performances the UW has had from anyone this season. And of course it came from the Huskies’ senior leader.
Reach Managing Editor Josh Kirshenbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @J_Kirshenbaum
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