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Cougar volleyball slipping in conference standings

WSU must return to its winning ways, one columnist argues

OSU+senior+outside+hitter+Mary-Kate+Marshall%2C+left%2C+goes+up+for+a+kill+against+WSU+junior+opposite+Claire+Martin%2C+%0Acenter%2C+and+junior+middle+blocker+Ella+Lajos+during+Sunday%E2%80%99s+match.+WSU+lost+in+the+fifth+set.
OSU senior outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall, left, goes up for a kill against WSU junior opposite Claire Martin, 
center, and junior middle blocker Ella Lajos during Sunday’s match. WSU lost in the fifth set.

OSU senior outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall, left, goes up for a kill against WSU junior opposite Claire Martin, center, and junior middle blocker Ella Lajos during Sunday’s match. WSU lost in the fifth set.

JORDAN MAXWELL | Daily Evergreen file

JORDAN MAXWELL | Daily Evergreen file

OSU senior outside hitter Mary-Kate Marshall, left, goes up for a kill against WSU junior opposite Claire Martin, center, and junior middle blocker Ella Lajos during Sunday’s match. WSU lost in the fifth set.

SAM HEIKELL, Evergreen columnist

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After three consecutive losses, WSU volleyball (13-7, 2-6) has fallen behind in the Pac-12 standings.

Following Sunday’s heartbreaking defeat to Oregon State (13-7, 3-5), the Cougars have dropped to ninth place. At the end of the year, the team could be on the outside looking in to the NCAA tournament — a tournament they obviously want to be a part of.

“Take some notes from [football Head Coach Mike] Leach on that press conference,” volleyball Head Coach Jen Greeny said in a news conference after the match against the Beavers. “We did nothing, we did nothing well.”

Even though they fought to the end in their defeat, it was a game the Cougars expected to win. Oregon State was in the cellar of the conference standings last season.

The Cougs have dropped six of eight conference games thus far, and much of that is because they haven’t been playing well at home. On the road, the team is 7-2, but in Pullman, they are 4-5.

“We can only get better from here,” junior outside hitter Taylor Mims said. “We can look at this and just focus on more things in practice, like how we can execute and how we can finish better.”

Despite the recent struggles, Greeny isn’t going back to the basics.

“We’ve got to get ready to go on the road,” she said. “We have to be able to elevate our games, and so I don’t think that necessarily starts with the basics, we just have to get better.”

The Cougars do not have time to waste, as the challenging Pac-12 schedule will not let up. They will take on University of California before a Stanford team that currently sits atop of the conference standings.

“We can’t hold onto any losses or anything like that,” Mims said, “because we have big teams like Stanford and Cal next weekend.”

They have been competing without an injured junior outside hitter in McKenna Woodford, their second leading scorer.

“She’s a big leader on this team,” Mims said. “She’s an outside hitter that plays all the way around. She was a really big part in this.”

Besides its conference struggles, WSU does have some things going for them. They have a lot of size and athleticism on their team up front, making them a scary squad to face. That is, if they are playing well.

Mims has been a major offensive weapon for the Cougars, leading the team in kills with 283 on the season and breaking two of her career single-game records Sunday. She racked up 25 kills and 18 digs on the day.

Only time will tell if the Cougars can get back on track to being the team they were at the start of the season.

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Cougar volleyball slipping in conference standings