Jen Greeny wins 200th game as WSU coach

Cougs overcome dismal offense, beat Arizona in historic win



WSU Women’s Volleyball head coach Jen Greeny, left, and Ben Laskey, assistant director of WSU athletic communications, right, talk about the system they use to keep track of the players performance in practices and games.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen managing editor

Following WSU volleyball’s 3-2 set win over Arizona, Jen Greeny was showered in hugs. Hugs from coaches, hugs from players and hugs and handshakes from loyal fans of the Cougar volleyball program she built on the Palouse.

A product of the Palouse herself, Greeny won her 200th career game as WSU volleyball’s head coach on Friday. She joins Cindy Fredrick, her coach from her playing days at Wazzu, as only the second WSU volleyball head coach to achieve 200 wins. Frederick set quite the legacy with 278 wins to her name, providing something for Greeny to strive for.

“That’s what we’re here to do. To be better than the people before us and to set records and to be the best. I mean my coach had some really great players,” Greeny said. “To be in that elite company, that’s pretty impressive.”

Friday’s win was nothing close to guaranteed as the Cougs struggled to get past their own mistakes.

Both WSU and Arizona had team-hitting percentages below .200 for much of the game before a dynamic fifth set padded their numbers. WSU hit .215 to Arizona’s .209.

“If we’re not playing ranked teams sometimes people are thinking that we should crush a team,” Greeny said. “Arizona is such a great team and defensively especially and passing, it was just a tough night trying to really get anything going.”

Pia Timmer and Magda Jehlarova, the team’s usual offensive leaders, struggled before eventually coming through in key moments.

Timmer hit .019 and produced nearly as many errors (12) as she did kills (13).

Jehlarova started slow but found her footing delivering eight blocks on the night, four of which were within the final two sets.

Karly Basham led the Cougs’ defensive efforts with a season-best 23 digs.

Despite the team’s offensive woes, Laura Jansen showed up and showed out for WSU as she put on a show for the fans in Bohler Gym, which included her parents who had traveled to Pullman from the Netherlands.

She hit .370 and created a season-best 27 kills. Jansen was active throughout the game disrupting Arizona and creating opportunities for her teammates.

After a dreadful third set in which the Cougs were three points away from a set victory only to let a rally fall the Wildcats’ way to fall behind 2-1, the Cougs could have easily conceded the match in the next set.

Instead, the message in the huddle and from Greeny was to flush it and focus on the next set.

“We just all stand and take a deep breath and then we just talk to each other, play our own game, have some fun, don’t get so stressed and tense,” Jansen said.

In the fifth set, the Cougs did exactly that to find themselves in a 14-14 tie. When it mattered most, setter Argentina Ung took a ball she might usually pass to a more potent offensive player and instead, smacked it directly to the feet of the Wildcats for the 15th point.

Next, none other than Jansen, the Cougs’ spark for the night snagged the final kill to secure the Cougar win.

Greeny’s ability to reign in her team during a sub-par performance and channel the energy to win speaks to how exactly she achieved 200 wins as head coach at WSU.

“She’s a great coach. She just helps us so well and she pushes us to be the best,” Jansen said.

Friday was only the Cougs’ sixth home match of the season. WSU playing more home matches down the stretch provides opportunities for meaningful improvement without the distractions of travel.

“We’ve been on the road so much that it’s hard to really get training and practice in and individual work,” Greeny said. “Now that we’re home for a couple of weeks we’re really trying to get back to the basics and fundamentals and getting people out of their comfort zone.”