Volleyball ready for NCAA Tournament

Cougars start their journey for an NCAA championship against Western Kentucky on Thursday



The Cougar volleyball team huddles up one last time before the start of the first set in the matchup against Cal Feb. 26 in Bohler Gym.

KAT MCKINNEY-ROLEY, Evergreen reporter

The WSU volleyball team is set to play in their fifth straight NCAA tournament on Thursday against Western Kentucky in Omaha, Nebraska.

WSU is currently ranked 15th in the AVCA Coaches Poll going into the tournament which gave them a first-round bye. Western Kentucky played against Jackson State on Wednesday to earn themselves a trip to the second round.

With a win on Thursday, WSU advances on to the third round slated for April 18. The tournament’s championship game is set for April 24.

Coming into the tournament, the Cougars were fourth in the Pac-12 behind Utah, Oregon and Washington. WSU also finished the regular season with an 11-4 record after several matches had been canceled due to COVID-19 protocol.

Last week sophomore middle blocker Magda Jehlarova was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second time this season. Jehlarova posted ten blocks in WSU’s last match against Arizona. She finished the regular season with an overall hitting percentage of .415 and had 17 solo blocks, which was the conference high.

WSU also had three all-Pac-12 selections; Jehlarova, sophomore outside hitter Pia Timmer, and redshirt sophomore setter Hannah Pukis all received All-Pac-12 First Team honors. This is the first time in WSU history that three Cougs had been named to the all-conference first team.

Pukis led the Cougars in assists with 525 in 15 matches. Pukis finished the regular season sixth in assists for the Pac-12 and fifth in assists per set. She also recorded 36 blocks and 61 kills this season, as well as seven double-doubles.

Timmer led WSU with 160 kills and averaged 3.20 kills per set. Defensively, Timmer totaled 104 digs, 2.21 digs per set and 12 blocks.

Jehlarova finished the season leading the Pac-12 with a hitting average of .415 and 17 solo blocks. She had 71 total blocks and 110 kills throughout the season.

Jehlarova has also been named some type of Pac-12 Player of the Week three times this season, two of those being defensive.

Freshman outside hitter Julianna Dalton was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team as well. Dalton, who made her debut with the Cougars this season, recorded 137 kills, 41 blocks and 381 attacks.

Pukis, Timmer, and Jehlarova again made history for WSU after being named to the AVCA All-Region First Team. This was also the first time that WSU has seen three players named to those honors.

Don’t forget to catch the Cougars in action against Western Kentucky at 7:30 p.m Friday in the CHI Health Center Omaha. The match can be watched on ESPN3.