Cougar volleyball finally back on the Palouse

Volleyball challenges No. 12 Oregon at 7 p.m. on Friday at Bohler Gym.



WSU’s Hannah Pukis (9) serves the ball during a college volleyball match against the University of California, Los Angeles, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Pullman, Wash.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

Following a nine-match road trip over the course of five weeks, WSU volleyball (10-5) finally returns to the friendly confines of Bohler Gym for a 7 p.m. Friday night match versus No. 12 Oregon (10-2).

Pukis played at WSU for four years, redshirting her freshman year before starting for the next three. She earned All-Pac-12 team accolades twice and finished fifth in the Conference with 10.3 assists per set in 2021.

In Pukis’ absence, Argentina Ung has stepped up quite nicely and is posting career numbers with 511 assists, an assists per set mark of 9.46 and a .342 hitting percentage.

“She has come in with the mindset of ‘she doesn’t want this team to drop off at all from what we’ve done the last couple of years,’” said Jen Greeny, WSU volleyball head coach in her Thursday press conference. “And she is somebody that’s just working extremely hard, comes into the gym early, takes feedback extremely well. Her teammates love playing with her.”

The story of the Cougars’ season has not just been replacing Pukis but compensating for injuries that have plagued the team over the past month and hindered their ability to beat ranked teams.

Shea Rubright and her replacement Jasmine Martin both suffered injuries as Rubright tore her ACL to end her season and Martin was out that same weekend in Minnesota. The Cougs lost to two ranked teams, Minnesota and Pepperdine with only one middle making it out healthy.

WSU is 0-5 versus ranked opponents and is undefeated through 10 matches versus unranked opponents. If the Cougs hope to make what would be their seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, they need to win a few against ranked opponents. Beating Oregon would be a tremendous start.

WSU is 12-26 all-time versus Oregon but won both matches last season. The haunting narrative is that they did that with Pukis as their setter. The Cougs are certainly the underdogs in this matchup but a victory versus Oregon would be so sweet to the Cougar faithful.

While Pukis was and is fantastic, Ung’s play also speaks for itself. For the Cougs to be most successful, Ung will need to focus on giving Pia Timmer, Magda Jehlarova and the rest of the lineup as many looks as possible.