WSU volleyball survives Arizona thanks to Disney magic 

Wildcats crumble under the pressure of ZZU CRU, Bohler Gym, Greeny wins 200th game as WSU coach

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COLE QUINN

WSU middle blocker Magda Jehlarova spikes the ball during an NCAA volleyball match against Arizona, Oct. 21.

BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor

A hard-fought comeback after falling behind early fueled the Cougs (14-6, 6-3) into a five-set victory over the Arizona Wildcats. Not only was it a big win for conference play, but it was also the 200th career win for Jen Greeny as the head of the team from Pullman.

In more significant developments, it was Disney night for the Cougs and the fans learned about the team’s favorite Disney and Pixar movies. The Cougs channeled the Disney magic into taking down Arizona (12-8, 2-7) by a score of 3-2 (22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-16, 16-14).

They improve their perfect record at home as they stand 6-0 at Bohler Gym on the season and have an 11-game win streak at home going back to last season.

Overall, the offense struggled against the Wildcats; as a team, the Cougs hit a poor .215, which would usually spell disaster and lead to a quick loss. However, the team stayed within reach in every set and eventually came away with the win.

“Any way you can get a win we’ll take it, especially in this conference with every team being great teams. Just happy to get the win,” Greeny said.

The sole offensive anomaly was Laura Jansen, who once again was outstanding in front of the home crowd, which included her parents, who had flown in from the Netherlands to watch her play. She led the team with 27 kills and a hitting percentage of .370 while adding two service aces from the line and six digs on the defensive end.

“I just thought of it before the game, just go all out and don’t hold back. It went well going all-out,” Jansen said.

Argentina Ung again played her swiss-army-knife role to perfection, tallying 52 assists, four kills, three aces and 10 digs. Karly Basham led the back-end defense with an incredible 23 digs and finally, although struggling to get things going on offense Magda Jehlarova had four solos and four assisted blocks on top of five digs.

After dropping the first set, barely taking the second set once they survived a late surge, the Cougs had a solid start to the third set and held a commanding 22-19 lead. After a long rally where Basham had several diving digs, the crowd cheered as if the team had won the point, thinking they had; Arizona would steal the point.

That one play completely swung the momentum and the Wildcats went on a five-point run that included the Cougs needing to take two timeouts. They only got one more point the rest of the set before they would fall 25-23.

Going into the final two sets, something needed to be done for the Cougs to protect their home court and get the win. In the post-set huddle, Greeny reminded the team to take it one step at a time and to take a deep breath.

Greeny and the players postgame attributed the crowd as a significant factor for keeping the team alive and their mentality afloat following the heartbreaking third set.

“We love the energy of Bohler Gym and what the crowds bring. The momentum change that can come with a home crowd is amazing. They were really able to help us out during the fourth and fifth sets,” Greeny said.

WSU dominated the fourth set and once the fifth set started, it looked like the Cougs would waltz their way into a magical win. But the Wildcats would not go away without a fight. The fatal blow of the team would be the five errors they committed during the final set that allowed the Cougs to win 16-14 and the match overall three sets to two.

The win saw the Cougs improve to 6-3 in conference play and they will look to continue this conference home dominance at 11 a.m. on Sunday against Arizona State.