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 open tournament run with sweep

Iman Isanovic leads with 16 kills
WSU volleyball players pose for a photo after their sweep of GCU in round one of the NCAA Tournament, Friday at Bohler Gym in Pullman, Wash.

To open their 2023 NCAA Tournament run, the WSU volleyball (25-7) took down Grand Canyon (23-8) in a sweep, 3-0 (25-12, 31-29, 25-17), their third consecutive sweep in the opening round of the tournament. 

Opening the match, the Cougs were on fire. Other than some out-of-character service errors in the opening moments, the team dominated at all levels. At one point, the Cougs went on as dominant as an 8-0 run, with the catalyst being Iman Isanovic, who finished the first set with eight kills and was hitting .636%.

As a team, the Cougs hit .600% and had a side-out percentage of 83.3%, marks conducive to the dominant finish of the first set. 

“When you come out like that, firing on all cylinders it gives you a false sense of how good you are,” WSU head coach Jen Greeny said. “But it is always good to get that first set under your belt.” 

Despite having been dominated in the first set, the Lopes did not give up. Even after Lana Radakovic had an absolute laser of a kill off of her right hand that ricocheted off a defender’s hand into one of the Lopes’ heads, knocking her down. 

Still, after going on a 5-0 run to build a 11-7 lead, GCU had a 20-15 lead. With their lead, GCU proved their worth as a formidable opponent to the Cougs, but still, WSU fought. 

Even down on match point, a 24-23 deficit, Karly Basham saved a ball at the net to set up Pia Timmer with a kill. After Basham sent over a beautiful serve, Timmer got set up with a game-tying kill on the next point, sending the near-3,000-person crowd of Bohler Gym into a frenzy. 

More back-and-forth action followed, but the Cougs prevailed. Hitting .280% as a team for the set, WSU won it 31-29 to set up the sweep. 

“Our team is really good at fighting back. We have faced a lot of adversity like that,” Timmer said. 

Ready to finish of the sweep, Timmer and Isanovic continued to command the offensive charge, leading the Cougs to hit .345% in the final set en route to their 25-17 set win. 

Coming in, the Cougs knew that GCU’s defense would be something they had to deal with, but they dealt with it with certainty. 

“We knew they played great defense and blocked really well. I think that first set did not really show what they have shown all year, but the second set certainly did,” Greeny said. 

Following the loss, the Lopes season is over, and the graduating seniors ’ careers are officially over. 

“This group has a lot to be proud of. If you look back to what the program was before they got here, and to look at where the program is now it’s night and day,” GCU head coach Tim Nollan said. 

Despite being down big after the first set, the Lopes proved they deserved to make the dance. Playing in a hostile environment, they fought to the very end, nearly stealing the second set in the process. 

“Hats off to them, [it was] a great environment here,” Nollan said. “I would have loved to see that second set bounce a little differently, but super proud of these athletes and what we did this year.”

For the Lopes, Tatum Parrott finished with a team-leading 12 kills, hitting .310% and adding four digs and two blocks. The sophomore gained necessary experience and got a taste of the NCAA Tournament, and she said she is hungry to get back in the coming seasons. Despite losing the first set big, she kept confidence in herself and the team. 

“I think once we settled in, I calmed down, and I was like, ‘Let’s just play our game and play our ‘brand of volleyball,’” Parrott said.

Graduate setter Klaire Mitchell, a native of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, had 28 assists, seven digs, and two blocks in her final collegiate volleyball match. Making the NCAA Tournament when she first arrived at GCU felt like a pipe dream, but in her final year, she made it a reality. 

“When I first got here, this was not really in the eyesight. But we made it and it’s been so awesome,” Mitchell said. 

Isanovic finished with a match-leading 16 kills on the side of WSU, followed closely by Timmer, who had 15 kills. Bother outsides finished with seven digs as well, proving to be well-rounded in their victory.

Magda Jehlárová had three blocks during the win, her third and final tying her for the Pac-12 record, bringing her career total to 756 and counting. 

The Cougs will be back in action on short rest, at 7 p.m. Saturday they are back in Bohler Gym, hosting Dayton for the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The match can be viewed live through ESPN+.

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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 2023 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.