Cougar Challenge overwhelming success for volleyball 

WSU sweeps the challenge in dominating fashion 



WSU’s Argentina Ung (12) sets the ball for middle blocker Magda Jehlarova (15) during an NCAA volleyball match against CSU Bakersfield, Sep. 2, in Bohler Gymnasium.

Brandon Willman, Multimedia editor

WSU volleyball  (5-1) played in the Cougar Challenge on Thursday and Friday with a match against California Baptist on Thursday and matches against Belmont and CSU Bakersfield on Friday.

The Cougs won all three of their matches to win the tournament, only dropping two sets throughout their three matches. Two members of the team were named to the All-Tournament Team as sophomore Katy Ryan made the team as well as transfer Laura Jansen who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. 

WSU vs California Baptist

Thursday’s opener against California Baptist was the cleanest match that WSU played all weekend as they were able to sweep CSU 3-0 (25-9, 25-13, 25-21). The Cougs simply outpaced and outmatched the Lancers leading in every major category except for making more service errors. 

Jansen led the charge in the win as she had 13 kills on 23 attacks for a hitting percentage of .565. Her performance led to a point total of 13, 1.5 more than the second-most on the team Ryan. 

Although the overall result was a sweep, the Lancers certainly became more and more comfortable on the court with each set. After only managing nine points during the first set, they got to 21 points by the third set and did not make things easy for the Cougs. 

Even with the increased offense of CSU, they only managed to improve their hit percentage to .105 during the third set, leading to them falling short of being able to take the set from the Cougs.

Argentina Ung was the perfect set-up for the WSU attack, as she tallied 35 assists on top of her eight digs. Head coach Jen Greeny praised her performance and work ethic of Ung postgame. 

“She keeps getting better and better so it’s great to have someone in our gym that is so dedicated to that position and making our offense work,” Jen Greeny said.

 WSU vs Belmont 

 The first match of Friday for the Cougars was against the Belmont Bruins. WSU pulled out the win 3-1 (25-7, 21-25, 25-12, 25-20) on the backs of strong performances from many of the familiar suspects from the first game. WSU had a noticeably strong opening set, at one point taking a 13-2 lead, going on to take the set by a score of 25-7.

Jansen and Ryan tied for the lead in kills with 13 a piece, sporting hit and kill percentages of .310/.448 and .435/.565 respectively. On top of her 13 kills, Jansen would add one ace and one block, while Ryan had five blocks to add to her 13 kills. 

Ung once again played her role perfectly, tallying 35 assists to get her total through the first two games of the Cougar Challenge up to 70. As a team, WSU impressed with 12 total service aces, a hitting percentage over .200 points higher than the opponent and tallying nine blocks to Belmont’s five. 

In the only set that Belmont won, their hit percentage jumped from -0.261 all the way to .405. Even with this impressive jump and the fact that they won the set, they were not able to maintain the momentum going into the third and fourth sets, as WSU would take them relatively easily. 

WSU vs CSU Bakersfield 

In the second game of Friday and the final game of the Cougar Challenge, WSU took on the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners and came out on top 3-1 (25-19, 25-13, 21-25, 25-15) to secure the tourney win and a 3-0 record on the weekend. 

Each set played in this match had competitiveness and there were few large runs throughout any of the sets. WSU was able to get 15 points first in all 4 sets, yet CSU was never far behind. 

The Cougars held a huge advantage in kills, winning that battle 55-39, hit percentage, leading .333 to .051 and blocks, 12-6. However, WSU struggled with the same thing they have struggled with all weekend, service errors. Yet, they never struggled more with this aspect than against CSU.

During this match, they would commit 14 service errors, notably committing one during the third set that clinched the set victory for CSU. Over the course of the entire weekend, WSU committed 32 service errors in total. WSU was able to overcome these errors with their strong attacking and aggressive net presence that no team was able to overcome. 

Jansen would once again lead the team in kills, tallying 14. Magda Jehlarova had her best match of the weekend, generating nine kills and one assist on 21 attacks for a .381 hit percentage.

Ung maintained her performance, having the highest single-game assist mark of her career with 41, for a total of 111 assists on the weekend. Her play this weekend brought her grand total through the first six games of the season to 200 exactly.

Overall, while playing well, notable Cougs such as Pia Timmer were overshadowed by the play of Jansen and Ryan due to how the weekend’s plan of attack centered around their ability to be aggressive at the net. 

WSU has had a strong start to the season with their only loss coming to a highly-ranked BYU team. The expectations for the Cougars are to be a top team in the Pac-12 and make a deep run into the NCAA tournament. 

When asked about the x-factor that would lead the Cougs deep into the postseason, assistant coach Burdette Greeny addressed the concern with health. 

“Health, we’re not that deep, we need to be smart about recovery… this team needs to grow with being more intensive, a little more passionate and aggressive in moments that count,” Burdette Greeny said. 

The next time we will see the Cougs in action is Friday as they head to Fairfield, Connecticut to compete in the Fairfield Invitational against Howard (2-3) and Fairfield (3-2) on Friday. Then on Saturday, they will face Fairleigh Dickinson (2-4).

They will be back in action at Bohler Gym on Oct. 7, when the Oregon Ducks come to take on the Cougs.