Cougs look to take last bite in Apple Cup series

WSU volleyball looking forward to match with UW

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COLE QUINN

WSU middle blocker Magda Jehlarova spikes the ball during an NCAA volleyball game against Oregon, Oct. 7.

BRANDON WILLMAN, Evergreen reporter

Washington State vs. Washington. The Apple Cup. No matter the sport, it is the most important match or game of the season and for volleyball, that is no different. 

No. 25 WSU volleyball (19-8, 11-5 Pac-12) will host No. 21 UW (18-8, 10-6) at 6 p.m. Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving and the day before the football edition of the Apple Cup.

Bohler Gym will be packed and the vibe will be immaculate, as Cougar fans will hope the Cougs can take the first win of the weekend. 

Both teams boast similar records in both general and conference play and have had similar years up to this point. The one-game lead in conference standings is bragging rights as of now, but the head-to-head tells a different story.

In the first match between the two of the season, the Huskies easily took care of business on their home court, winning 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 25-22).

Back then, the Huskies were ranked No. 18 and WSU unranked, coming off a tough two matches where they had lost both. Despite being swept, that was earlier this season and this is now.

WSU is playing with increased chemistry and has ongoing momentum since they have crept into the rankings and UW has decreased in rank since the last time these two played.

In their last five matches, the Huskies are 2-3 and the Cougs 4-1. With not only momentum on their side, but also the fans hungry for a win, it will be a tough battle but the Cougs will come out on top.

As for the stats, UW has the second-best hitting percentage in the Pac-12, but also boasts the fourth-worst opponent-hitting percentage. WSU is middle of the Pac in both, placing in fifth and sixth respectively.

WSU is also third in the conference in blocks and first in service aces, two skills that will translate nicely into a match against an offense-first team such as the Huskies.

The key to the game will be getting into an offensive groove early and on defense limiting Marin Grote of UW.

Head coach Jen Greeny has talked all season about not looking to stop the opponent’s best players, as that is not possible, but rather to limit their ability to make plays and attack the surrounding pieces.

Greeny and co will look to take the win in front of the WSU faithful in the last game of the regular season, if all goes well, the Cougs will finish 23-8 and be looking at a high seed for the NCAA tournament.

Players to look for

Magda Jehlarova – Offensive groove will be the focus of the game plan and that is why three of the main hitters are the players to look out for. Jehlarova is fifth in the Pac-12 in hitting percentage and the Cougs will need a vintage performance from her to get the win. 

Pia Timmer – A focal part of the Coug offense for multiple seasons, Timmer knows the Huskies’ defensive plan and will know how and where to attack, she could very easily have a big game and lead the team in kills. 

Katy Ryan – The last spot was between Ryan and fellow hitter Laura Jansen, while Jansen will certainly play a vital role, Ryan may be the missing key. From game to game, the role of Ryan has changed slightly and if she is utilized well and tallies close to or above 15 kills, that will mean good things for the team.