Be in Bohler: WSU volleyball deserves it

Cougars host UCLA on Tuesday, UW Friday in Apple Cup



WSU middle blocker Magda Jehlarova spikes the ball during an NCAA volleyball match against Utah, Nov. 18.

SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports editor

The crowd’s groans quickly changed to cheers as Karly Basham took what was surely a Utah point and scraped the ball out of gravity’s clutches and into the air, setting up an elated Katy Ryan kill.

There was never any doubt during WSU’s swift dismantling of a fellow Pac-12 competitor on their way to a Friday night sweep but there were certainly moments of dominance like Basham’s heroics where you could not help but say “wow.”

The Cougs are on the verge of a seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and are ranked in the top 25 in the country.

If that sentence referred to WSU men’s basketball, you know Beasley Coliseum would be packed night in and night out.

Alas, Kyle Smith is still trying to guide Cougar men’s hoops to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008 but the first sentence is true in 2022 for another group of Cougs.

Led by head coach Jen Greeny, a former WSU volleyball player herself, Cougar volleyball is the mark of consistency and high achievement for their fellow WSU Athletic programs.

They have made the NCAA Tournament 16 times in 31 seasons between 1991 and 2021.

They have a program-high six consecutive tournaments made streak that they seek to expand to seven this season.

With only two games left, WSU volleyball is in a prime position to do just that in a season rich with challenges before it even began.

All-Pac-12 setter Hannah Pukis transferred to rival Oregon. There are plenty of rumors and speculation that she was a poor teammate and had fallen out of favor with the coaching staff. Whether or not this is true, some things are best left unspoken.

Needing to replace Pukis’ All-Conference caliber production, the team turned to Argentina Ung to step into the starting setter role.

“You gotta give [Ung] a lot of credit. She keeps getting better. I think everyone thought [when] we lost Hannah last year, our other setter and we weren’t going to be as good. So Arge’s improving and she’s a starting setter for Team Mexico,” said Burdette Greeny, associate head coach.

WSU setter Argentina Ung serves the ball during an NCAA volleyball match against Utah, Nov. 18.

Burdette praised Sheri Sanders, a D-I National Champion and a former member of the U.S. National Team, for joining the coaching staff in the spring and preparing Ung to be a successful starting setter.

It certainly appears that Sanders has passed on her expertise to Ung, who is sixth in the Pac-12 with 10.11 assists per set.

With Ung establishing herself as a quality setter, the team suffered some early season losses to top-25 teams and lost all of their middle blockers to injury. The season was far from lost though thanks to the incredible contributions of Pia Timmer, Magda Jehlarova and Laura Jansen.

Jehlarova is three blocks away from holding the second-most total blocks in program history. She currently holds 574 total blocks.

Jehlarova is fifth in the Pac-12 with a .389 hitting percentage and Laura Jansen is in the top ten in kills with 364.

WSU middle blocker Magda Jehlarova (15) and outside hitter Pia Timmer (7) attempt to block a spike from Utah middle blocker Amelia Van Der Werff during an NCAA volleyball match, Nov. 18.

Pia Timmer has been her typical spectacular self. Although she is just outside the top 10 in several individual categories, her 3.27 kill per set is sixth in program history.

The sense of family this team exhibit is inspiring and the results on the court is worth the price of admission unto themselves.

“We all contribute and we all have the same goals. Which is pretty rare and I love that about us,” Ryan said.

The Cougs have two games remaining this season. They host UCLA at 6 p.m. Tuesday and University of Washington in the Apple Cup Series at 6 p.m. Friday. Both games are in Bohler Gym in Pullman.

If you are anywhere near Pullman this week, go to Bohler Gym to witness the best program on the Palouse do their thing.

Go Cougs!