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

Defending champs? No problem

No. 11 WSU finishes out of conference play with big win over No. 6 Texas
Argentina+Ung+and+Magda+Jehl%C3%A1rov%C3%A1+team+up+for+a+block+vs.+UC+Irvine%2C+Sept.+6.+
BRANDON WILLMAN
Argentina Ung and Magda Jehlárová team up for a block vs. UC Irvine, Sept. 6.

Adversity. No matter how grim things look for the WSU volleyball team, they are never out of a match. From losing the opening set in a hostile environment to being down seven points late in the second set, the Cougs have grit and they showed it in their massive upset of the defending NCAA National Champions. 

The No. 11 Cougs (10-1) went into the home of the defending champs and No. 6 Texas (5-3) and took them down in four sets 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-22) — beautiful symmetry done by WSU to get three straight sets of a great team.

In front of 4,656 strong in Gregory Gymnasium in Austin, Texas, WSU finished out of conference play with only one loss and with three straight-ranked wins. With two top-10 wins already, the Cougs are undoubtedly a top team in the nation. 

“We’ve been together with this group for such a long time and we’ve been on them about playing well in a hostile environment on the road, and against a quality team,” associate head coach Burdette Greeny said. “That is why we built the schedule the way that we did this season.  For them to go out and do it, I’m just so proud of them.  We could have rolled over and died after losing the first set and going down 11-4 in the second.” 

To begin the match, the Cougs had a lead as high as three points as late as 14-11 in the first set, but the home-court advantage proved too much as the Longhorns took them down 25-21 in the end. With momentum, set two looked like Texas dominance. 

Led by a 5-0 run, Texas had an immediate 11-4 lead over WSU, a lead they maintained up to a 16-7 and 17-10 lead. But the Cougs showed why they are at an absolute minimum, a top-10 team. After closing the lead to a 20-17 Longhorns advantage, a big 7-0 run spearheaded the comeback 25-22 set victory to seize momentum completely. 

Set three did not see any massive run from either side, but the set had fans of both teams on the edge of their seat. With 10 ties and five lead changes, every point felt like the difference and spark a team might use to go on one of those big runs. 

The home Texas crowd proved insufficient as the Cougs entered the fourth set on double match point. 

Again, finding themselves down mid-set, this time a 13-8 lead for the home squad, WSU took back control with a 7-0 run featuring four separate Cougs getting kills.

Despite the big run, WSU never fully maintained control of the set. With 11 ties and four lead changes, it was another tight set. But something was in the air for the Cougs, once again clutching it out with their third-straight 25-22 set victory and a 3-1 win overall. 

The match proved to be one of stamina, as WSU had 146 attacks to Texas’ 145. Neither team hit exceptionally well, but the .226% by the Cougs paced the Longhorn’s .166% mark. Both teams were locked in defensively, with Texas leading the way with 17 kills and the Cougs not far behind at 16. 

Magda Jehlárová led the charge at the net per usual, with her participation in nine blocks behind second in the match behind Texas’ Asija O’Neal’s 13. Not just Jehlárová, the Cougs covered the net with absolute certainty. Katy Ryan participated in six blocks, Argentina Ung had a big game with eight and Lana Radakovic had six. 

Four Cougs had double-digit kills, with Ung spreading the love exceptionally well. Iman Isanovic led the Cougs with 13 on .235% hitting, second was Jehlárová with 11 and a team-leading .391% hitting and Pia Timmer and Ryan both had 11 kills to bring the team the victory. 

Ung, day after day, proves to be the most underrated setter in the Pac-12. In the win, she had 43 assists, five kills, seven digs and the aforementioned eight blocks. With her well-rounded skill set, it is clear why WSU has had so much success to start 2023. 

“We’ve been waiting for Arge to get really aggressive at the net and not just get balls over at the net but actually attack them,” Greeny said.

With Karly Basham tallying 19 digs and Julia Norville with 11, the defensive back line picked the slack when a ball got past the brick wall of WSU’s net defense.

After a win over then-No. 8 BYU at home and wins over No. 18 Baylor and No. 6 Texas in hostile environments, there are few teams with better strengths of schedule and big wins than the Cougs, and the AVCA voters will take notice. 

Next up for the Cougs is the start of Pac-12 play. At 7 p.m. Thursday, the Apple Cup returns to Bohler after last year’s big win. UW is 8-2 and on the cusp of being a ranked team, with WSU looking to spoil their in-state rival’s season yet again. 

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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.