WSU begins conference play with two big matchups 

Apple Cup series starts Wednesday, then to LA for USC

Cougar+volleyball+players+leap+to+block+a+spike+from+Husky+freshman+middle+blocker+Lauren+Sanders+on+Sept.+20.

JESSICA HARJA | Daily Evergreen File

Cougar volleyball players leap to block a spike from Husky freshman middle blocker Lauren Sanders on Sept. 20.

BRANDON WILLMAN, Evergreen reporter

A two-game skid must quickly be put in the rearview mirror of the WSU volleyball team, as they have Pac-12 conference play against rival schools to focus on.

WSU volleyball (8-3) is preparing for a battle against Washington and USC to begin conference play in the 2022 season.

Following two losses to ranked opponents in No. 17 Pepperdine and No. 8 Minnesota, things will not become any easier as University of Washington was ranked No. 18 in the most recent coaches poll. USC is currently unranked but has shown promise to start the season.

WSU is not favored in either of these matches but will look to prove their doubters wrong. If they are unable to take at least one of these matches, they may be in danger of falling into a midseason slump that would be difficult to come out of.

The first upcoming matchup is against the Cougs’ biggest rivals, UW. All time, WSU is a mere 9-31 and is on a one-game losing streak against the Huskies.

The 8-2 Huskies are expected to win, but with the strength of competition that WSU has faced this year, they should be well aware of what they need to do well to take down a team of the Huskies’ caliber.

Following their trip to Seattle, the Cougs will have a two-day break before facing USC.

WSU has an all-time record of 8-32 against USC, however, they won the most recent matchup in a 3-0 sweep last season. USC is undefeated at home this season, boasting a 6-0 record on their home court. Overall, the Trojans are 8-3.

WSU is often seen as the underdog. Against their rivals, look for them to be hungry to snap this losing skid and have strong offensive showings.

These matches are vital for team morale and momentum, both outcomes could have serious consequences for the rest of the season.

Players to look out for:

Katy Ryan — Ryan was the life of the offense in Minnesota. If she can replicate her performance in the final two sets against Minnesota, WSU will bounce back in the offensive aspect of the game.

Magda Jehlarova — Jehlarova had her two weakest matches in the two most recent games. She will be hungry to perform well in the rivalry games, looking for her strong impact on the offense.

Julia Norville — Norville had 10 digs against Minnesota. She was surprisingly impressive on defense in both matches. Look for her, in tandem with Karly Basham, to lead a WSU defense if the offense ever starts to slow down.