Cougar volleyball exemplifies fighting spirit



The WSU volleyball team celebrates after winning a point during an NCAA volleyball match against Arizona, Oct. 21.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

The Cougs never quite looked comfortable in their 3-0 loss to the Stanford Cardinal, their first home loss in over a year.

Down two sets to nothing, Pia Timmer smacked a ball to the Bohler floor for a kill as the stadium erupted. The point brought the Cougs within one of Stanford, a position they had been in the prior two sets. The difference was, this time they would take the lead. But they swiftly let it slip.

Laura Jansen, Magda Jehlarova, Katy Ryan and Timmer were the leaders on offense but each had underwhelming nights. Jansen and Jehlarova led the team in kills with 12, while Jehlarova also led the team in blocks with seven and had the best hitting percentage of the night (.423).

The next highest hitting percentage was Ryan’s .294 whereas Timmer hit .133 and Jansen, one week removed from an incredible 27-kill, .370 hitting percentage night hit a dismal .029.

Stanford on the other hand was on fire.

Kami Miner and McKenna Vicini hit .556 and .500 respectively and Caitie Baird led the team in kills with 15.

Their hitting percentage was a whopping .288 to the Cougars’ .183.

“We were so close but then just couldn’t get over the hump in key moments and momentum would swing their way,” head coach Jen Greeny said.

During home matches against Arizona and Oregon, WSU was blown out in one set. Against Stanford, the Cougs kept it close, losing by no more than three points each time.

“We’re right there, we’re right there. Sometimes the breaks don’t go your way,” Jen Greeny said.

With injuries to Shea Rubright and Jasmine Martin forcing the team to reconfigure their lineup early in the season, Jen wants the team to be more aggressive and plans to move hitters around as to not be predictable.

“Tonight really showed whenever we aren’t doing the little things right in our game, that’s whenever we start breaking down,” senior libero Karly Basham said. “That’s what cost us those two or three points at the end.”

No matter what Wazzu did, Stanford had the edge.

On Sunday however, against the winless California Golden Bears, the Cougs came to play, outscoring Cal 25-6 in set one, 25-18 in set two and 25-22. Cal got closer and closer each time but fundamental execution from the Cougs kept the Bears at bay.

“We can’t take any plays off,” Basham said. “There were just these moments where one person or the team was taking their mind off the game or we just weren’t as locked in as we were the play before.”

Little things like eye contact between plays no matter the circumstances, turning a one pass into a two-pass and shouting out the opponent’s formations will help the team immensely, Basham said.

“Those small things have a huge impact on the feel, the vibe of the team on the court, on the sidelines,” Basham said. “Once we kind of get that on lock I think we’re in for a really cool season.”

WSU volleyball lost their first home match since Oct. 22, 2021, which was also to Stanford. The loss broke a home win streak of 12. Despite the loss, the Cougs still gathered in front of the band and sang the fight song with the fans.

“Win or lose we still want to thank our fans for coming out,” Basham said.

The 2002 elite eight Cougar volleyball squad was in the building, 20 years after their historic season. Jen was an associate coach for the 2002 squad.

“It was super cool for our team to see [the 2002 team] because we can all be like ‘that’s going to be us one day,’” Basham said.

It was also WSU’s first game since Burdette Greeny, associate coach and Jen Greeny’s husband, announced his cancer diagnosis.

Jen thanked the team for keeping the news under wraps for a week and for being so supportive.

“He’s one of the biggest role models,” Basham said. “We not only want to fight for ourselves but we want to fight for something bigger, for him.”