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

Bruins spoil Cougs first senior night

Cougs in massive slump with another tough loss
Magda Jehlárová walks onto the court with her family during WSU volleyball’s senior day celebration, Nov. 10, 2023 in Pullman, Wash.

Prior to first serve, the Cougs honored five of their eight departing seniors. Lana Radakovic, Peyton Claus, Julia Norville, Pia Timmer and Magda Jehlárová were given flowers and their jersey in a plaque to celebrate their contributions to the team during their time in Pullman.

Timmer, in front of her family, who traveled from Germany, had a season-best 22 kills and stayed efficient, hitting .288%, all while adding eight digs on the night. With every massive kill from her strong right arm, Coug fans got the best of the PA announcer. 

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Pia Timmer,” the speakers rang out. 

“BOOYAH, it’s Pia Timmer,” after an overpass turned into a WSU point. 

“Pia Timmer, oh yeahhhhh,” in a deep, devious voice. 

“Pia Timmer, holy smokes,” the last fun call, late in the fifth set. 

Disrupting the festivities and the recognized seniors traveling across international waters, UCLA wanted to come away with the win to benefit their NCAA Tournament odds, a mission they succeeded in. 

No. 9 WSU (19-7, 9-6 Pac-12) failed to defend Bohler once again as the unranked UCLA Bruins (15-10, 7-8) won in a thrilling five-set finish 3-2 (25-20, 24-26, 25-18, 25-27, 17-15). Three sets went into an extended red zone, with the Cougs winning the two standard-length sets and the Bruins coming from behind to upset WSU in the fifth set. 

In the first set, UCLA took an early lead and never looked back, zero ties and zero lead changes happened in the first set, four ties and zero lead changes happened in a tight second set where the Cougs won. After little change, the third and fourth sets completely reversed it. Those two sets saw a combined 23 ties and 13 lead changes, with the teams once again splitting the sets. 

WSU took a commanding 6-0, then 7-1, then 8-2 lead — before getting to how the fifth set ended, let’s review how the two teams got there. 

The Bruins got off to a hot start in set one, jumping out to 6-1 and 9-2 leads. Play on the side of the Cougs was visibly sloppy and they started out the gates slow. Despite finding themselves down 18-10, they never seemed to think they were out of it. 

Their first of several 5-0 runs throughout the duration of the match got them back into it, a far more manageable 18-15 deficit turned into a 20-17 deficit from Shea Rubright’s first kill of the match. Rubright got the start in the match, finishing with three kills and three blocks while getting the start. 

Early in the second set, the Cougs had their second 5-0 run of the match to take a quick 8-3 lead. Magda Jehlárová failed to pick up a block in the first set, and it took her until the 23rd serve of the second set to pick up her first block. 

Despite the slow statistical start, she finished the set with three blocks and had six on the night when things were all said and done. 

WSU played with a lead or a tie for all of the second set, with the fans becoming lively despite being out of the entire first set. Even when they had a lead, the Bruins were never out of it. UCLA won six points in a seven-serve span to cut the Cougs lead to 22-20, but the Cougs got the Bruins on the ropes with a 24-20 lead. 

Even with all of the momentum in the world, the match still could never end easily. The Bruins forced an extended red zone, but when the Cougs took a 26-25 lead, all the Cougs needed was a little luck. Combining at the net, Iman Isnaovic and Rubright blocked a UCLA attack that fell safely to the court as three Bruins defenders all looked at one another without a single player committing to the ball careening toward the ground. 

As set three commenced, UCLA had a 7-0 run and the Cougs had their worst set of the match. Hitting just .154% as a team, they played from their back foot the entire time. With 17 digs in the set, by far their most in a set of their match, the Bruins leapfrogged them in stats, especially in blocks when they took a 9-7 lead. 

Throughout the match, “The Block” became restless with how the game was called. Six renditions of the fans serenading the Gym with “Refs, you suck” chants happened in the match, with head coach Jen Greeny successfully challenging multiple calls. 

Near the end of the fourth match, the Cougs and Bruins were locked in a 23-23 tie. Radakovic served the ball, a Bruins defender had to make a play on the ball and the dig became an overpass to the side of the WSU. As she has done so many times before, Timmer returned the pass to the Bohler floor with authority to put the Cougs up 24-23 and fans erupted with cheers. 

Hitting .333% as a team in set four, they barely secured the win 27-25 to force a fifth set. 

That’s when they build their several leads, as significant as 8-2. 

It seemed like a reverse of the first set, with a team taking a big lead and never looking back. A set win without a lead change or a tie, a win for the Cougs seemed inevitable. That is until the Bruins tied it at 14. 

The first lead change? When UCLA took a 15-14 advantage in the fifth set.  

Argentina Ung had a two-handed kill to tie it at 15-15, the second tie in the set, but the Bruins won two straight points to take a 17-15 set win and secure their upset win over the Cougs. 

Isanovic finished as the only other Coug with double-digit kills, having 14 but committing eight errors. Jehlárová had nine kills on .333% efficiency to go along with her six blocks, Argentina Ung finished with 47 assists and 16 digs to lead the team, but it all was not enough.

UCLA had 74 kills as a team, finished with eight more service aces than the Cougs, had five more digs and even matched their block total. 

Now 1-4 in their last five matches and 2-5 in their last seven, the Cougs are freezing cold at one of the most important times of the season. They need to figure it out as the NCAA Tournament comes closer, but that all starts with the match next up on the schedule.

At noon Sunday, they host USC for their second senior night.

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About the Contributors
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.
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen sports co-editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the sports editor for spring 2024. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year and managing editor for the summer and fall 2023. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves sports and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.