The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

WSU wins back Cougar name over BYU in volleyball

Cougs gets first top-10 win since 2021
The WSU volleyball team is recognized for their win over BYU during the football game, Sept. 9.

Late in the fourth set, holding onto a 2-1 lead in sets, No. 13 WSU built a lead of 23-14 and looked poised to take down No. 8 BYU to claim that they deserve the Cougars name. By then, WSU’s Pia Timmer knew that the team had it in them to close the match for the upset. 

“At that point, I was like, shit, like, we’re about to win this,” Timmer said. 

That’s exactly what happened. No. 13 WSU volleyball (8-1, 0-0 Pac-12) upset No. 8 BYU (8-1) in four sets 3-1 (18-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-19) to hand the Cougars of Utah their first loss of the season and improve to 6-0 at home in Bohler Gym. With the win, WSU picked up its first top-10 win since taking out No. 6 Washington two seasons ago in 2021. 

Improving to 6-0 at home, Bohler Gym had its first substantially large crowd and student section of the young season, a crowd Iman Isanovic has loved playing in front of in the short amount of time she has spent thus far at WSU. 

“I was telling Karly before the game, I was just like looking around at the bleachers and I’m like, I love playing in Bohler. It’s awesome,” Isanovic said. “Pullman is really awesome. It’s always awesome to see people who genuinely love volleyball and genuinely like enjoy watching and like supporting the Cougars.” 

While the match started slow for the Cougs of WSU, with the team giving up a 6-0 run near the end of the first set in what was an 18-25 set loss, Wazzu had the most errors as a team in the first set, making the difference in the loss.

Winning the first set of a match is usually imperative to winning it all, as associate head coach Burdette Greeny said that when good teams win the first set, they usually hold on for the wins. For WSU especially, who has been involved in a sweep in all but two of their nine matches to start the year. 

“The percentages are majorly in favor of whoever wins the first set, especially against a good team. I was pleased [with the performance]. We’ve been talking to this team for a long time, the returners, about being experienced and having poise. I think they exhibited poise tonight,” Burdette Greeny said. 

WSU overcame the adversity of losing the first and immediately stepped up in the second set. As a team, the hitting percentage improved from .207 to .375 between the two sets, with Isanovic leading the way at .529. Defensively, the Cougs remained stout, holding BYU to hitting .143, their worst mark of the first three sets. 

As the second set concluded, it became clear that the recipe for winning was not exactly the norm for Wazzu. A team usually elite at the service line ended the entire match with 11 errors and without a single service ace, but the offense was still great. 

From strong digging to elite passing, the offense led the way for WSU in this match, proving to be the best offensive unit since the beginning of the Jen and Burdette Greeny tenure. 

“Offensively, our team is something different that we’ve never had.  It’s kind of scary. Once we get our second middle clicking, besides Magda. I think it’s gonna be really, really good,” Burdette Greeny said. 

Carrying their momentum forward, the third set remained close throughout, but two momentum plays secured the win for WSU. The first came relatively early in the set, with the score tied 6-6. 

Starting with Karly Basham’s serve, Lana Radakovic and Argentina Ung teamed up to block an incoming BYU attack, forcing two of their players to the ground, and trying to dig out the block. That touch remained low, forcing two consecutive diving touches that somehow kept the play alive for BYU. 

On the ensuing WSU attack, Isanovic lightly touched the ball over the blocks, once again forcing two of BYU’s players to the deck to keep the play alive. Another Radakovic and Ung block attempt led to a leaping stop from BYU until, finally, Radakovic had a massive solo block in the middle of the net, sending Bohler into a frenzy. 

That play helped spark an eventual 8-1 run to give WSU a substantial 18-12 lead in the set, but BYU came roaring back. Unphased by their opposition’s own run, Wazzu secured momentum through the end of the set with a late play that gave them a 22-18 lead. 

This time, BYU served into a mistouch from WSU that allowed a strong attack that Radakovic somehow reacted to keep the ball alive, with the ball barely making it over the net from a Timmer panic touch with her left hand. Radakovic and Katy Ryan snuffed the immediate BYU attack to win the point and control the rest of the set. 

Offensively, WSU kept getting stronger. They hit .387 in the third set while keeping BYU to hitting .195. Timmer and Isanovic stood out as the top attackers of the match as a whole, only potentially matched by BYU’s Erin Livingston. 

Holding on to the 2-1 set lead, the fourth and final set never got too close. Wazzu handled business, winning 25-19 but having a lead as large as 23-14. 

Timmer finished the match with the lead in kills with 21, hitting .312 on the match and digging eight balls defensively. Close behind her in second was Isanovic, who had 20 while hitting .417. Burdette Greeny said those two had such great performances as they picked their spots and hit those sports more efficiently than they had all year. 

“They did something we’ve been asking them to do in expand their range. And so you, if you look back and kind of a heat map of where they hit for the match, they were hitting about every spot,” Burdette Greeny said. 

Timmer said that her mentality helped with finding her groove. She played with the focus on trusting her training and her skills, knowing that aggression would work out in the end.  

“I just didn’t want to take anything off just being aggressive with it. I just had a [full send] mentality,” Pia Timmer said. 

The third WSU player with double-digit kills was Magda Jehlárová, with 11. She led both teams with six total blocks and hit .421 on the match, proving why she is an all-time great with yet another fantastic performance. 

Finally, Ung finished just 10 assists shy of her record, as she had 47 in the four sets. She had nine digs and two blocks in the game. Not outdone, Basham led the team with 16 digs, with several of them coming on what looked like surefire kills from the arms of BYU. 

Comparing the two teams, WSU outhit BYU in percentages of .302 to .169 and had better side out rates at 62.4% compared to 56.5%. While BYU had the better day at the service line, Wazzu controlled the net with 11 blocks compared to eight.

Wazzu won the game behind great team play from elite passing and elite finishing from the duo of Timmer and Isanovic, team play that keeps the game of volleyball fun for the players. 

“Especially when you’re playing high-competitive volleyball, it’s so easy to get sucked into the competition and the want to win,” Isanovic said. “But we just played because we love each other and we love the sport that we play. So it’s really nice.”

WSU has two matches remaining before Conference play begins, with both coming on the road. First up is a 5 p.m. match against Baylor Wednesday in Waco, Texas. Then they make the short trip to take on Texas at 5 p.m. Friday in Austin, Texas.

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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.