Cougars end season in third round of NCAA Tournament

No. 16 seeded WSU loses Sweet Sixteen game to No. 1 Stanford 3-1 on Friday



Junior libero Alexis Dirige receives a strike from Stanford on Nov. 16 at Bohler Gym. The Cougars lost to Stanford in the third round of the NCAA Tournament to end their 2018 season.

TY EKLUND, Evergreen reporter

A three-round tournament run for No. 16 seeded WSU volleyball came to an end Friday as the Cougars lost to No. 1 Stanford in California 3-1 in the Sweet Sixteen.

This match would take away another Pac-12 team from the bracket leaving only Oregon and Stanford in the Elite Eight.

Going 12-8 during the conference season, the Cougars (23-10) came into the first round of the bracket facing Northern Arizona, the top team from the Big Sky Conference. WSU topped the Lumberjacks 3-1 and moved on to face Tennessee, where the team again won 3-1. Both rounds were hosted in Bohler Gym.

The Cardinal came into the third round 30-1 overall, 20-0 in the Pac-12 and with a 15-0 record at home. The team’s first- and second-round bracket wins added to its 21 shutout wins this season.

This game was the teams’ third. WSU lost both prior games 3-1, once at Maples Pavilion and once at home.

The first set opened with an error by Stanford to put the Cougars on the board first, but neither team let go of the helm and tied at 10 points only a couple minutes in.

WSU fought hard to keep up, but four late-game errors and a couple of finishing kills for Stanford had the Cardinal taking the set 25-17.

Stanford junior outside hitter Kathryn Plummer ended the set with seven kills and five digs. Cougar senior outside hitter Taylor Mims had four kills while senior middle blocker Ella Lajos and junior middle blocker Jocelyn Urias had two apiece.

After the first set the Cougars came out chopping wood to take an early 8-3 lead. The Cardinal would later go on an 8-1 drive and bring the set closer in its favor.

The teams tied at 17 after going back-and-forth midway through the set. Plummer and freshman middle blocker Holly Campbell scored more Cardinal kills for a 24-22 advantage, but the Cougars bounced back with a 4-0 run to win the second set 26-24.

This set win would prevent the Cardinal from getting a shutout game. It also made the team hungry for points as they went 10-2 to start the set. WSU would bring it to 15-9 with the help of multiple errors from Stanford but suffered as Plummer continued to tally kills, leading Stanford to dominate the third set 25-14.

The third set showed off the Cardinal pursuit for halftime revenge, and it kept that forest fire going into the fourth set. Stanford knocked down the first two kills and continued on to take a 7-1 lead. This seemed like the end for the Cougars, but they started a comeback with continuous kills from Urias and Mims to make the score 16-14 in Stanford’s favor.

Although several errors hurt the Cardinal, it started to expand its lead, pelting the Cougar defense with multiple kills. WSU could not make a second comeback and lost the fourth set 25-19 to finish the match and end its season.

Mims led the set with 17 kills and 10 digs followed by Urias with 10 more kills. Junior setter Ashley Brown had 35 assists on the night along with 10 digs.