The Daily Evergreen

Can’t be beat; volleyball dominates home tournament

By Brett Gleason, Evergreen Volleyball reporter

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Two weeks into the season, and the Washington State University volleyball team has yet to lose.

With three sweeps in four matches, WSU won the Cougar Challenge Tournament over the weekend to move to 7-0 on the season.

Cougar junior middle blocker Ver’Leea Hardaway was named tournament MVP, while junior outside hitter Jaicee Harris also earned all-tournament honors.

“Ver’Leea is playing really well,” WSU Head Volleyball Coach Jen Greeny said. “We really want to run our offense from the middle out and both Ver’Leea and Marcelina (Glab) have been playing extremely well. So very proud of them.”

The all-tournament selection for Hardaway was the second for her this season, as she also gathered the honors last weekend at the Black Knight Invitational.

“I honestly just came out here and tried to do the best that I could and it turned out really good,” Hardaway said.

The Cougars opened up the tournament with a 3-0 sweep of Eastern Washington on Friday afternoon, taking the Eagles down with set scores of 25-21, 25-11 and 25-19.

WSU out-hit Eastern .463 to .200 in the match, including a hitting percentage of .773 in their dominant second set.

Led by a balanced attack from Harris, Glab, Hardaway, and freshman Kyra Holt, the Cougars tallied 46 kills with only eight attack errors.

“(Balance) is what we want,” Greeny said. “We knew last year might be a little bit rough, so I think that improvement of both the returners and then the addition of both Kyra and Emmy Allen I think has really helped us a lot.”

The Cougars collected another sweep in Friday’s night match, this time of Texas Tech. Set scores of 25-19, 25-22 and 25-20 handed the Red Raiders their second loss of the early season.

Offensive balance shone through for WSU once more against Texas Tech, with Holt collecting 10 kills and Harris, Hardaway and Allen each collecting nine.

Defensively, WSU out-blocked Eastern Washington and Texas Tech by a combined 16-5 count on Saturday.

While just narrowly letting the sweep escape them, WSU opened up their second day of the tournament on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Montana with set scores of 25-16, 25-19, 26-28 and 25-11.

With four players in double digit kill totals in the match, WSU finished hitting .303 to the Grizzlies’ .097.

The Cougars wrapped up the tournament victory against South Dakota on Saturday night, taking the match with set scores of 25-16, 25-17 and 25-22.

WSU managed to out-hit South Dakota .333 to .194, with 13 kills from Holt, eight from Allen and seven each from Harris, Glab and Hardaway.

“I think our chemistry is really starting to flow together more and in games we’re seeing little things that we need to pick on, so I think that’s definitely helping a lot,” Harris said.

With her 151 assists over the weekend, senior Camryn Irwin brought her career assists total up to 2,605, which placed her in fifth place on the WSU all-time career assists list.

“Camryn is doing a fantastic job really distributing the ball,” Greeny said.

While their record was perfect, WSU did struggle with one aspect of their game over the weekend, offering up 41 service errors over the course of the tournament.

“We really want our servers to be aggressive this year,” Greeny said. “So missing aggressively, that’s okay. But it’s those times that they’re not being aggressive and trusting their serve that’s a problem.”

The Cougars will now travel to Huntsville, Texas to participate in the Sam Houston State Invitational Sept. 13-14.

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Can’t be beat; volleyball dominates home tournament