Volleyball off to best start since 2013

The Cougars won both games on the east coast and will return to Pullman for the Cougar Challenge


Courtesy of WSU Athletic Communications

Sophomore defensive specialist Alexis Dirige high-fives teammates as she runs onto the court Monday evening in Washington D.C.

TYLER SHUEY, Evergreen columnist

Cougar volleyball (2-0) won again in four sets on the tail end of a match Monday night in Washington D.C. against Howard University (1-3).

WSU narrowly won the first set by a score of 25-22. Junior outside hitter McKenna Woodford led the Cougs with six kills in the first set. The Bison responded with a controlling second-set victory, tying the match at one apiece.

WSU responded in the seesaw game by convincingly winning the third set 25-16. In the fourth set, Howard held strong, but the Cougars’ experience and pedigree pushed through, winning 25-21 and sealing the match.

The Cougars topped the Bison in assists, with 53 to the Bison’s 42.

“I’m proud of this team that we came away with two wins on this tough road trip,” head coach Jen Greeny said in a postgame interview.  “I like these tight situations where we either have to fight back or close out a tight set like we did.”

Woodford led WSU with 18 kills while sophomore setter Ashley Brown guided the team with 26 assists. The Cougs’ defense was also strong as redshirt sophomore middle blocker Jocelyn Urias recorded five blocks.

Sophomore defensive specialist Alexis Dirige had 36 digs on the night for WSU, setting a school record for most digs in a four-set match. Greeny praised Dirige’s ability to pick up the slack.

“I went after every ball and was ready to dig anything that came to me no matter how hard it was being hit,” Dirige said. “We won this match because we were aggressive and went after every ball.”

Junior setter Tamia Dockery stood out for the Bison, slating an impressive 31 assists while adding 16 digs. Howard dropped their third game of the season after playing four games in four days.

The Cougars now head home to prepare for the Cougar Challenge Tournament.

“It’s going to be a quick turnaround back in Pullman,” Greeny said.

The tournament consists of Incarnate Word, Quinnipiac, College of Charleston, Baylor and the host WSU. Incarnate Word, located in San Antonio, comes into the tournament not having played a game yet this season due to Hurricane Harvey.

Baylor is 3-1 so far this season, coming off a second-round exit to UCLA in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Cougars were also ousted in the second round of the tournament, losing to No. 3 Wisconsin.

The tourney begins at 9 a.m. Thursday in Boehler Gym. WSU begins play at 1:45 p.m. that day against Incarnate Word before playing again at 8 p.m. against Baylor.