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 volleyball’s G.O.A.T through talent, dedication, humility: Magda Jehlárová

A record-shattering middle blocker that reshaped the program
Magda+Jehl%C3%A1rov%C3%A1+walks+onto+the+court+with+her+family+during+WSU+volleyballs+senior+day+celebration%2C+Nov.+10%2C+2023+in+Pullman%2C+Wash.
SAM TAYLOR
Magda Jehlárová walks onto the court with her family during WSU volleyball’s senior day celebration, Nov. 10, 2023 in Pullman, Wash.

When Magda Jehlárová takes the court for the top-10 ranked WSU volleyball team, it is not always the 23-year-old, highly decorated, record-breaking middle blocker at the top of her game. Sometimes, it’s the young girl who is not even double-digits in age from the Czech Republic, just trying to beat her older brother Dalibor Jehlárová in their competitive relationship. 

Volleyball was not the childhood dream for Magda. Besides, she said her family was far more academically inclined than athletically. But, the towering 6-foot-3 middle blocker started playing volleyball when her brother’s coach noticed her height and got her onto the court. 

Quickly, she rose up the ranks of professional competition in her home country. By 15, she made it to the highest level of competition. Now, in 2023, she is the all-time total blocks leader in WSU program history, a member of the 1,000 kill club, and the most decorated player in program history. 

Despite her evident talent, she hesitated to come to the United States to play volleyball. She was unaware of what the NCAA was and how it worked, unsure if she would be comfortable in a part of the world where, at the start, she “knew no one in the entire city” and was unsure if she would even play since she knew she would have “some real competition for my spot on the court.”

She had the talent, but in what became a trend, she remained humble, for better or worse. 

“Magda came in not thinking she was good enough to play on the national team and for her country. She came not thinking she wanted to play pro ball so she would just have fun in college,” said Burdette Greeny, associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. “She started finding out right away that she was pretty good.” 

Magda, right away, dominated. Finishing her true freshman 2019 season with 180 total blocks with 1.46 blocks per set and 268 kills on hitting .357%, she was named the AVCA National Freshman of the Year. Still, the accolade did not get to her head and she continued to work hard to get even better. 

“After winning AVCA National Freshman of the Year, she just didn’t stop and just kept working hard and getting better,” head coach Jen Greeny said. “She’s really humble and gives a lot of credit to her teammates, of course. She’s a great team player and is really fun to be around as a person.” 

Her hard work paid off. She continued to get better and dominate the stat sheet and the record book. After the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, she led the Cougs to two NCAA Tournament appearances, continuing the program streak of seven straight appearances through the 2022 season. 

Through 2022, her metaphorical trophy case is overflowing. Magda is a three-time AVCA All-American, four-time All-Pac-12 Honoree, 2022 Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, 2019 AVCA National Freshman of the Year, 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, among many, many more accolades.

One of her record-breaking accomplishments is her weekly Pac-12 Awards. With her 12 weekly Award wins, she has the most ever among Pac-12 volleyball players. The record is a testament to her talent and hard work, part of which is not always seen on the court. 

“Magda’s really improved on her growth mindset and figuring out how to get better every day at something,” associate coach Shannon Hunt said. “She’s a naturally gifted jumper, and she just springs off those legs; it’s unreal, her ability to do that.” 

Despite not knowing what life in Pullman would be like and being worried about her ability to make friends, she said she has made lifelong best friends since coming here. In the same 2019 freshman class, two other international players came to Pullman. Pia Timmer, from Germany, and Weronika Wojdyla, from Poland, were two other freshmen who were in the same boat as Magda.

Quickly, the three found solace in one another. After becoming roommates, they never left the house without one another attached at their hip. It made Pullman home for Magda and it made being able to focus on volleyball and school much easier. 

“Yeah, they’re my best friends. For the first few years, we were together 24/7 and I would not even leave my apartment without them. They’re like my sisters,” Magda said. “They’ve been so important to me and my time being here. I can’t imagine what I would do without them here.” 

After setting her forever bond with Wojdyla and Timmer, Magda focused on becoming a leader and figure that her teammates could look to for guidance.

“Her most intangible skill is her leadership. She’s pretty gnarly out there. She gets after it,” Burdette Greeny said. 

It has not only been the coaches who noticed this. Players from incoming freshmen to seasoned fifth-year transfer students flood Magda with compliments for her ability to, in humility, give tips on how to get better. 

“Being able to block next to Magda is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” teammate Katy Ryan said. “She’s really good at giving tips and advice, so that’s been amazing for my growth as a player.”

“She’s an amazing volleyball player and an amazing person. She’s like my mother. We’re just like really good friends and it’s been a privilege to play alongside her for the past two years,” Ryan said. 

Magda would have been done at WSU after the 2022 season in a normal setting. But, due to the pandemic in 2020, all Division I volleyball players were given an extra season of eligibility. Alongside her best friends, she announced she would return to WSU for her fifth year.

She said it was an easy decision. Not only did it satisfy her desire to win it all in volleyball, but it satisfied her academic side. It provided her an opportunity to get a master’s degree while being able to avoid taking a break from playing volleyball, a massive benefit for her aspirations to play professionally in her post-collegiate life.  

With an extra season, Magda already has broken records. On Sept. 1, 2023, in a match where Magda recorded 10 blocks, she broke the WSU program record for total blocks in a career, a record she has since built a sizeable lead in. Now, with four regular season matches to go, she is just 15 blocks shy of becoming the all-time block leader in Pac-12 history and 10 blocks shy of becoming the NCAA leader in the rally-scoring era (since 2001). 

The winning formula for the Cougs has been simple: let Magda work at the net.

“[She’s] one of the greatest blockers of all time. We [just] need her to block the ball [to win],” Jen Greeny said. 

With only four more guaranteed matches and likely at least once more in the NCAA Tournament, time is ticking for Magda to break the record. But that’s no big deal because she “loves working under pressure.” 

Due to the future of the Pac-12 being uncertain at best, and it being unclear when players will be given an extra season of eligibility to aid in their ability to accumulate stats, Magda can set the block record for a very long time. 

She felt great about breaking the record, but she focused on the schedule ahead of her. Besides, her focus has never been on individual accolades, it’s bringing the Cougs all the way to the NCAA Championship. 

“It’s incredible. I’m so happy today that we all came back for a fifth year because we know that we have a really good team this year and we want to achieve something that hasn’t been done here before,” Magda said. 

However, her teammates stopped to take in the moment and recognize just how special a person and player Magda is. 

“It’s the most special thing ever. Like we have been talking about this in our group chats and in our locker room for so long for that the day that she was going to break it,” WSU libero Karly Basham said. “Being able to experience it with her and us both coming back for a fifth year is something really unimaginable. It being our last year just makes it 10 times more special.” 

For both WSU as a team and Magda on an individual level, the 2023 season has been special. WSU is in the midst of a program-record eight straight weeks inside the AVCA Top 10 rankings and reached as high as No. 4 in the rankings. They have taken down several ranked teams, including Texas, Baylor and Oregon on the road. 

Individually, Magda has her best hitting percentage at .414% and is averaging 1.45 blocks per set through 98 sets played. Up to 1,188 career kills, she has the 10th most in WSU history. Her career hitting percentage of .380% would rank first among players with at least 2,000 attempts. Her 1.4 blocks per set would rank second. Her 1,704 points rank fourth all-time and just four away from top three and finally, she played her 140th career match Sunday, Nov. 12, which is the most all-time in program history. 

With the goal of pushing deep in the NCAA Tournament, the No. 9 ranked WSU Cougs are playing fantastic volleyball. At 20-7 and 10-6 in Pac-12 play, they will likely not win the final Pac-12 title, but a NCAA Tournament bid for the ninth-straight season is all but guaranteed. 

As Magda nears the end of her WSU career, the loss that will be felt when she no longer inhabits Bohler Gym will be immense, and looking back, she wishes she could have taken it all in more. 

“I just feel like the time has gone by so fast,” Jehlárová said. “I wish maybe that I would like appreciate day by day more, you know, even though it gets pretty, pretty similar every single day” 

But her legacy will not be forgotten. Not just in the record books either, but her impact will be felt on the court in the coming years. Magda played an active recruiter role for the team. 

She told Burdette Greeny to check out Lucie Blažková in the Czech Republic and Lucie called Magda before committing to WSU. Burdette said that players are the best recruiters as when they give the stamp of approval and can give other players a stamp of approval, it makes the process easier. 

Magda did the same thing to convince Iman Isanovic to transfer over for her fifth year, and with Blažková’s youth, she will be a staple of the WSU team for the next several years. 

Only time will tell how far the 2023 WSU volleyball team will go in the NCAA volleyball Tournament. Regardless of how it ends, Madga’s career will be remembered in WSU history for decades to come. 

“She’s the queen,” Lana Radakovic said. 

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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.