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 tourney run starts with Grand Canyon

Team, Bohler Gym ready for round one
Iman Isanovic serves the ball against the Oregon Ducks during an NCAA volleyball match, Oct. 27, in Pullman, Wash.

One night’s rest stands between the Cougs and the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 4-seeded WSU volleyball (24-7, 14-6 Pac-12) begins its postseason run against Western Athletic Conference Champion Grand Canyon (23-7, 13-3 WAC). 

WSU last hosted the NCAA Tournament in 2018, with the 2023 season being the first time hosting for all active players on the roster, despite making the dance the last four seasons. 

“We are super excited to get to host the first two rounds,” Magda Jehlárová said. “I think it is going to be a huge home-court advantage for us.” 

As a program, WSU has made a big entry into the tournament for the eighth consecutive season, contrasted with GCU, which is making its first-ever appearance in the dance.

Jehlárová and teammate Pia Timmer have been a part of four NCAA Tournament teams, but have never made it past the second round. This season, the goal is to make it as far as possible, with the team very confident they will be able to accomplish that goal. 

“I believe this year we are really prepared for it. We have a really solid team. We believe in each other and in our own skills,” Jehlárová said. 

Home court advantage is a serious thing, as over the past five seasons, the Cougs have gone 49-16 on their home court., finishing the 2023 regular season 12-4. For the players, playing in front of the home crowd means so much more than having to travel to play. 

“It gets me so hyped up to play for all the students and people that come to our games. I think they really set the atmosphere for the whole game and just make it so much more fun,” Timmer said. 

Despite grand expectations to finish with their best run in the NCAA Tournament in their final seasons, Timmer and Jehlárová keep their focus on one game at a time. To make it past the second round, they first need to make it to the second round.

“We just got to stay focused on us and play our game and I believe we can make it to the second round,” Jehlárová said. 

During the 2023 regular season, the Cougs won the most games under current head coach Jen Greeny they have ever won, finishing with 24, as well as finishing with five All-Pac-12 Honorees. Jehlárová earned her Pac-12 record fifth All-Pac-12 First Team honor and Timmer made the First Team for the fourth time in her career. Then, the trio of Iman Isanovic, Argentina Ung and Katy Ryan all finished as All-Pac-12 Honorable Mentions. 

The Cougs’ dominating skill has been their attacking, hitting a 10th-best in the country and program record .286% during the regular season. But, the GCU team has also been an offensive force during this season, evidenced by the WAC Conference Championship win and team-hitting percentage of .276%. 

Grand Canyon is led by their tandem of WAC Setter of the Year Klair Mitchell and sophomore outside hitter Tatum Parrott. Mitchell finished the regular season averaging 10.67 assists per set, hitting .333%, while Parrott was her favorite target, averaging 4.69 kills per set and hitting .317%.

“They’re hungry; they have a super experienced setter who is ready to win,” Greeny said. “We just have to play our game and settle in. I think there are nerves on both sides, but being home in Bohler helps a lot.” 

Entering Friday’s first-round matchup, the Antelopes are riding high as they beat California Baptist, UT Rio Grand Valley and Stephen F. Austin in the WAC Tournament to win the Conference Championship, only dropping one set during their run. 

Greeny has the Cougs ready. The 2023 tournament marks the 14th trip she has made with the Cougs, whether as a player, assistant or head coach. However, being a head coach means making a lot of difficult decisions. But for Greeny, one thing stands alone as the hardest thing to do ahead of game day. 

“It’s not game-planning. It’s not scouting. It is what boots I am going to where,” she said. 

Greeny’s boots will be on display alongside WSU volleyball at 7 p.m. Friday in Bohler Gym and will be available for streaming on ESPN+. 

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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 2023 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.