Volleyball open season with pair of losses

No. 18 WSU falls 3-2 to South Carolina, 3-1 to No. 9 Pitt



Then-redshirt freshman setter Hannah Pukis sets the ball during the game against Arizona on Oct. 18, 2019, at Bohler Gym.

KAT MCKINNEY-ROLEY, Evergreen reporter

After a promising close to last season, the Cougars opened their season with two losses at the Carolina Volleyball Classic in Columbia, South Carolina.

The No. 18 Cougs took on South Carolina in their season opener, the first regular-season tournament the Cougars have played since 2019.

After a season full of changes and cancelations, the Cougs finally made it to their first match of the new year. Unfortunately, the Gamecocks forced WSU to a fifth set after winning the third and fourth sets. South Carolina also won the fifth set 15-13.

WSU recorded 61 kills, almost meeting South Carolina who had 68. Overall, there were 51 errors between the two teams, WSU with 30 of them. WSU also finished the match with a hitting percentage of .197.

Fifth-year outside hitter Penny Tusa led the Cougs with 22 kills and two blocks. Tusa had an unusual match with no aces.

Junior outside hitter Pia Timmer recorded 10 kills, one ace and two blocks. Junior middle blocker Magda Jehlarova had 10 kills, as well as three blocks. Freshman opposite Katy Ryan had eight kills on the.

In the first set, the Cougs caught a point streak winning four points in a row. WSU went on another 3-0 run with kills from Jehlarova that took the Cougs to a 17-13 lead. WSU ended up winning the set 25-20.

In the second set, the Cougs came out with a 6-4 advantage thanks to Ryan and Timmer. South Carolina and WSU went back and forth until the two were tied 10-10. With more help from Timmer, the Cougs went on a 4-1 scoring streak. Timmer again hit an ace to give the Cougs a 17-15 lead. The women then went on a 3-0 run to lead 21-18, which forced the Gamecocks to take a timeout. The Gamecocks then tied the set to send it to extra points. The Cougs won the second set 27-25.

Going into the third set, the Cougs were up 2-0. This would be short-lived. The Gamecocks came out to the third set ready to win and ready to play. South Carolina went on a 5-1 run over the Cougs and led 12-5. WSU took a timeout, but the Gamecocks did not let them stop from losing their lead and momentum. The Cougs fell 25-13 in the third set.

Junior defensive specialist Karly Basham came out with an explosive start in the fourth set. The Cougs went on a 5-1 scoring run. Tusa and Ryan went on an offensive attack with a couple of aces. The Cougs forced the Gamecocks to take a timeout. WSU continued to take control of the set. The Gamecocks fought back to win the fourth set 25-21.

In the final set of the match, South Carolina found their rhythm again. The Gamecocks found themselves up 7-3. After a couple of kills and aces, the Cougs tried to fight back, but it was too late. The Gamecocks won the fifth and final set 15-13.

After their loss to South Carolina, the Cougs took on No. 9 Pittsburgh on Saturday but ended up falling 3-1.

In the first and only set the Cougs won during the match, the Panthers went on a 5-1 scoring run. The Cougs were not ready to go down without a fight. Redshirt junior blocker Kaylah Williams went on a three-kill run to give the Cougs some much-needed momentum. WSU went on to have five consecutive points and forced Pitt to take a timeout. The Cougs ended up winning the first set 25-18.

The second set for the Cougs was not as lucky. WSU started off the set with a 6-3 run. Tusa and  Jehlarova helped get the lead. Pitt came storming back to tie the set 7-6. Pukis and Ryan fought right back to help the Cougs back in the lead. After a lead of 9-8, Pitt began to pull away and won the set 25-20.

In the third set, Pitt picked up right where they had left off. The Cougs did start out with a hot start but could not keep it going. The Cougs went on a 6-1 run to hold an 11-9 lead. This lead did not last, and Pitt quickly took over. Toward the end of the set, Pitt and WSU were tied. However, Pitt pulled ahead and they ended up winning the set 25-22, which gave them a 3-1 advantage and a win in the match.

Timmer had 16 kills in the match to lead the Cougs. Tusa was second in kills with 13 kills but also had three kills, the most out of all the Cougs. Williams had 12 aces and had three blocks. To round out the players, Jehlarova had eight kills.

Overall, in the second match, the Cougs had 57 kills and 24 errors. Pitt and WSU tied with the number of attempts. WSU had an overall hitting average of .248, which was an improvement from the previous match. The Cougs also had 54 assists with five aces.

Now ranked No. 25, WSU will return to action on Friday and Saturday with a pair of matches for the Rebel Challenge in Las Vegas. The 0-2 Cougars will face No. 8 Purdue on Friday and UNLV on Saturday.