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

Cougs survive Trojans; serve up revenge

WSU gets their own home reverse sweep against ranked foe
Karly Basham hugs Emma Barbero after defeating USC in a five-set match, Nov. 12, in Pullman, Wash.

The Cougs found themselves down two sets to none. They had been dominated to that point. After being reverse swept less a month ago by the very USC team they found themselves down to, things looked bleak.

WSU had been struggling; they were losers of four of their last five matches, after all. Despite the noise of being a team on the verge of yet another loss to a ranked team, they came out of the locker room with a fire lit beneath them. 

On their second senior night, the No. 9 Cougs (20-7, 10-6 Pac-12) got their revenge. They reverse swept No. 25 USC (17-9, 11-5 Pac-12) in what was eerily similar to the Trojan’s own reverse sweep of Cougs, a final line of 3-2 (15-25, 16-25, 25-16, 27-25, 15-11). 

Prior to first serve, the Cougs honored the final three of their graduating seniors. Weronika Wojdyla, Iman Isanovic and Karly Basham got their flowers and jerseys and applause by a Bohler crowd that gets to see them for one of the final times of their WSU career. 

Then, ahead of the National Anthem, Bohler Gym rang out the Polish and Bosnian National Anthems to honor their two international seniors recognized on the day.

“Before the Bosnian National Anthem started, I turned to Argentina [Ung] and I was like, ‘I’m gonna cry. I’m gonna cry,’” Isanovic said. 

Iman Isanovic gets teary-eyed as the Bohler Gym plays the Bosnian National Anthem, Nov. 12, in Pullman, Wash.

Likely due to the team’s recent struggles, as well as some external factors including the national natural gas shortage affecting Pullman, “The Block” had just 67 people in the stands for first serve, including five USC fans. While it filled as the match progressed, and Bohler Gym had an overall total of 1,481 people, the starting attendance left a little to be desired, especially with the Trojans jumping out to a big lead. 

With the very first serve of the match, a WSU program record was broken. With Magda Jehlárová getting the start, she played in her record-setting 140th career match as a Coug, passing Peny Tusa and Kristen Hovde. 

Despite the record, the Cougs started dramatically slow. USC had two separate 4-0 runs in the opening set, dominating as they hit .577% as a team and committing just a singular attack error. A start contrast, the Cougs had seven attack errors and hit an abysmal 0.091%, while not tallying a single block. 

Set two did not do much to get the crowd going, as the Trojans kept putting the heat on the struggling Cougs. Trojans hit .441% in set two, and while improved, the Cougs mark of .146% was not close to enough.

USC improved their side-out percentage for the match to 78.1% and was still only at three attack errors, and the Cougs were only up to a single block. 

Then, there was a timeout and the teams talked things out in the locker room.

“I’m just really proud of the way that we kind of settled into the match and fought back and didn’t give up after those first two sets,” head coach Jen Greeny said. 

That should tell you how the rest of the rest of the match went. 

In set three, the Cougs jumped out to 3-0 lead, then a 6-1 lead. Turning it completely around, WSU hit .424% as a team, holding the Trojans to .160%. Jehlárová denied the Trojans at the net to close out the third set, a dominating 25-16 win that swung momentum. 

The fourth set had several key plays for both sides. Early on, Basham had a point-saving play where she found herself falling into the first few rows of “The Block,” but still the Trojans won the point to take a 10-6 lead. It appeared they had gotten that momentum back and the third set was a fluke. 

But then, cutting the lead down to 14-13, Jehlárová attacked from the right side, perfectly weaving the ball between multiple defenders, landing safely on the left side of the left side. Then, tying things up at 18, Argentina Ung got sent careering into the scores table to make a set, and Lana Radakovic awarded her with a big kill.

Even then, USC did not go away. On the very next point, a bad reception forced the second touch of the Trojans to come from the bench, as a player was falling into the seats, but they got the ball over the net. The subsequent WSU attack seemed to be a guaranteed point win, but a pancake from USC and a powerful attack gave the Trojans a 19-18 lead. 

After clutching out an extended red zone stay, WSU won it 27-25 after hitting .366% in the fourth set, matched closely by USC at .308%. 

The final set started strong for the Cougs, a 7-3 lead and 12-5 lead were enough to get them to a 15-11 set win and reverse sweep accomplished. 

“I think there was a lot of frustration with the roadblock that we faced with the team with the last couple of games, we were [so close] every single game that we play, but would just come up short, by a smidgen,” Isanovic said. “After seeing my girls fight their asses off and give everything they got to this team every single time in this gym. It was just an amazing feeling and  I wish I could keep it forever, honestly.” 

WSU finished with 13 blocks despite their slow start, with Jehlárová leading the team, and match, with an impressive nine blocks. Her getting going proved vital to the Cougs success, something Greeny noticed. 

“One of the greatest blockers of all time. We need her to block the ball [to win], she was just thinking of just slowing the ball down,” Greeny said. 

Not only did the first serve make history for the Cougs. The final serve did too. With win No. 20 on the season, Greeny became the second coach in WSU history to lead the team to three-straight 20-win seasons, joining her former head coach Cindy Fredrick. 

“We’re trying to be better than in the past year, every single time we step out on the court here,” Greeny said. 

Ung had a season-high 53 assists, moving into eighth all-time in Cougar with 2,247 for her career. She also had six digs and seven blocks for her impressive all-around performance.

 Jehlárová, with her nine blocks, now just needs just 14 more to break the Pac-12 record and nine more to break the NCAA rally-scoring era record.

On her senior night, Isanovic provided the biggest spark for the Cougs offense. She had a team-leading 24 kills on hitting .279%, finishing with a double-double as she also had 10 digs. 

WSU has just four regular season matches left for 2023, next up, at 6 p.m. Friday, they take on Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. Bohler Gym will only see action once more during the 2023 season, a noon Nov. 22 matchup with Arizona State.


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About the Contributors
BRANDON WILLMAN, Editor-in-chief
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 EIC starting in summer 2023 and enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.
SAM TAYLOR, Evergreen managing editor
Sam is a senior multimedia journalism major from Lacey, Washington and the managing editor for fall 2023. He was the sports editor for the 2022-23 school year. He plays the trumpet in the Cougar Marching Band, loves baseball and has worked at the Evergreen since fall 2021.
EMMA DECASA, Evergreen photographer
Emma Decasa is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Originally from Issaquah, Washington, she is a junior majoring in Advertising, with a minor in Sports Communication. Emma started working for the Daily Evergreen in the fall of 2023.