Volleyball sweeps away Cougar Challenge

WSU defeats Long Beach State, Northern Iowa, Gonzaga at Cougar Challenge



Redshirt junior Kalyah Williams and freshman Katy Ryan rise up for a block against Gonzaga on Sept. 10 inside Bohler Gym.

KAT MCKINNEY-ROLEY, Evergreen reporter

After four consecutive losses, the WSU volleyball team fought their way back to win three times during the Cougar Classic. The Cougars had a perfect record in their first home tournament since 2019. 

In the first match on Sept. 9, the Cougs beat Long Beach State 3-0. 

To start the first set, the women went on an 11-3 run with help from fifth-year outside hitter Penny Tusa, redshirt junior Kalyah Williams and junior defensive specialist Julia Norville. WSU went on a 3-1 run, which helped the Cougs take a 20-12 lead.

Junior outside hitter Pia Timmer had back-to-back kills to all but put the set away. Long Beach State did make a 6-1 scoring run to get to 23-20. After a couple of Cougar kills, the first set was claimed 25-20. 

In the second set, WSU continued to carry the momentum from the previous set with a jump of 14-8 lead. Long Beach State battled back to tie the set at 19, which forced WSU into a timeout. A few minutes later, the Cougs found themselves trailing 24-21. With the fans cheering the Cougs on, they battled back to tie the set 24-24. The Cougs would go on to claim the set 29-27.

In the third set, Long Beach State came out ready to play and took an early lead of 5-3. WSU came battling back off a 51 scoring run led by Tusa. Redshirt junior setter Hannah Pukis led a great defensive front. WSU caught a great scoring run of 9-2 that ended the match 25-16.

Junior Pia Timmer gets set against Gonzaga on Sept. 10, 2021, inside Bohler Gym.

Timmer led the Cougs with 12 kills and one ace. Freshman opposite Katy Ryan had nine kills on the night as well. Both Williams and Junior middle blocker Magda Jehlarova had six kills. 

WSU had 39 kills on the night with 12 errors. WSU also had a hitting percentage of .255. The Cougs recorded 10 aces on the night as well.

The Cougs had two more matches to complete their sweep. 

In their second match, WSU dominated the visiting Northern Iowa Panthers 3-0.

The Cougs had an impressive 39 kills on the match while Northern Iowa had only 24. There were only 15 errors. The Cougs had a hitting percent of .261 while Northern Iowa had a percentage of .010. WSU also had six aces. 

Timmer led the Cougs with 15 kills and three aces on the day. Jehlarova had eight kills on the day as well as two aces. 

From the beginning of the match, the Cougs were in the driver’s seat. Thanks to some help from Ryan and Jehlarova, the team jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in the first set.

Later in the set, WSU went on a 7-0 scoring run to end up having a 20-8 lead. Timmer recorded three more kills and an ace to end the first set 25-13. In the first set, the women had a hitting average of .258 whereas Northern Iowa had one of .000. 

During the second set, Northern Iowa showed more competitiveness, but WSU still dominated the court. In this set, WSU recorded the lowest hitting percentage of the day, hitting a .156. With a 3-0 scoring run from the Cougs and another kill by Timmer, the women could confidently say the second set was going to be claimed by the Cougs. Timmer and Jehlarova took turns performing kills on the night to eventually lead the Cougs to a 2-0 lead over the Panthers of Northern Iowa. The final score of the second set was 25-16. 

In the third and final set of the match, the women began with a 9-1 overall scoring run. Timmer, Jehlarova and Ryan all contributed with kills to give WSU its second win of the season. Northern Iowa had a few momentum swings, but each was shut down by the Cougs with a couple of big blocks. The Cougs won this set 25-17. 

Coming off their second win of the tournament, the Cougs were ready to take on the Bulldogs from Gonzaga.  

The Cougars set the tone early for this match. Jehlarova and Timmer both had early kills to start off the set. After a service ace, the Cougs were up 5-1. Williams and Ryan had multiple kills with an electric Bohler crowd in the back cheering the home team on. The Cougs took off with multiple scoring runs. WSU eventually dominated the Bulldogs 25-14 in the first set. 

Gonzaga showed a little bit more momentum at the beginning of the second set and jumped out 3-0 over the Cougs. The Cougs, however, were not ready to end their perfect sweep during the Cougar Classic. They rallied back for a scoring run of 6-1. Williams, Tusa, Ryan, and Jehlarova all recorded big kills to put the Cougs ahead. Williams totaled four kills during the set to claim the second set for WSU 25-17. 

Penny Tusa serves the ball during WSU’s match against Gonzaga on Sept. 10, 2021, inside Bohler Gym.

After a 2-0 start to the match, the Cougs looked to dominate the third set and get the win for crimson and gray. WSU did in fact dominate 12-1. Gonzaga had three. straight points, but it was not enough to battle back.

Jehlarova recorded back-to-back service aces that were followed by kills from Tusa, Ryan and Pukis. Sophomore setter Jenna Howard recorded her first WSU assist for teammate sophomore setter Argentina Ung. WSU finished the set with a block from Tusa and Williams. The set ended with a score of 25-11. 

The Cougs were perfect, sweeping all three of their matches 3-0 and going 3-0 in the Cougar Classic. 

Timmer was named the MVP of the tournament after a very impressive offensive performance. 

The women have one more tournament in Santa Barbara, California, at the Thunderdome Classic before they open Pac- 12 play. 

There is currently no way to watch both matches against UC Santa Barbara. However, you can keep up with the matches on the WSU Athletics website. 

The first serve is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, and the second match is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.