WSU volleyball sweeps Long Beach State


Sophomore middle blocker Jocelyn Urias spikes the ball in a match against Utah on Sept. 26, 2015.

The WSU women’s volleyball returned home from a successful weekend at the Long Beach State Mizuno Invitational with wins in all three of its matches.

Last weekend, the Cougars (5-1) took on Northeastern, UC Irvine and Long Beach State and came away victorious in each match. Though WSU had the best record of all teams at 3-0, the participating teams did not face each other so no tournament champion was named.

“Overall it was a great weekend and I’m happy to be getting out of here 3-0,” WSU Head Coach Jen Greeny said.

Going up against a Northeastern team coming in with a three-match winning streak, the Cougars established control in the first set, sweeping the match and winning all three sets by seven points or more.

Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Mims led the team with eight blocks and a .455 hitting percentage. A collectively strong team performance led to a win with six Cougars, including Mims, finishing the match with four or more kills.

Greeny said the team showed progress after working on blocking in practice during the week, but they still have room for improvement.

The Cougs faced UC Irvine, who knocked off No. 7 USC in their previous tournament, in their second match. WSU downed the Anteaters in four sets and looked past Irvine’s big victory over a fellow Pac-12 foe in the Trojans.

Sophomore outside hitter McKenna Woodford led the Cougs as they weathered the storm brought on by Irvine’s redshirt senior outside hitter Victoria Dennis and sophomore outside hitter Haley DeSales, who combined for 27 kills.

“I think the difference in the Irvine game as opposed to other games this season was the opportunity I was given to step up,” Woodford said. “The success of our right sides and middles gave me open holes in the block as well.”

This combination of attacks helped the Cougars hit for their highest hitting percentage of the season in the match, hitting .320 as a team with four players hitting above .400. Three of the four players who hit over .400 were sophomores.

The Cougs coupled solid hitting in the match with stiff defense. Irvine hit for an abnormally low .034 hitting percentage in the fourth and final set of the match.

While it was not a sweep, Greeny said the results were satisfying.

“This is a very good UC Irvine team but I was really proud of the way we came out,” Greeny said.

Long Beach State hosted the tournament and played the Cougs in their final match. While LBSU was highly-touted in the preseason and coming into the match, WSU swept the home team with relative ease.

Led in their final game by senior outside hitter Kyra Holt, the Cougars held the 49ers to a .041 hitting percentage for the match to help offset a .214 mark of their own. LBSU played a strong third match trailing two sets to none, but WSU dug deep to seal the victory with a 25-23 set win.

Senior Hailey Bethune attributed the team’s ability to close out the match to a team-wide improvement made following the match against Northeastern.

“I think that there was more energy from the team overall in the warmups and the games themselves against Long Beach State and Irvine than against Northeastern,” Bethune said.

WSU returns home riding a four-match winning streak with hopes of achieving a similar result in front of a home crowd.

“Now we have to work on some other things in practice and hopefully put it all together next weekend,” Greeny said.

The Cougars will host the Cougar Challenge Tournament Friday and Saturday. WSU opens play against University of Maryland Eastern Shore Friday at noon and plays the nightcap Friday evening against George Washington University at 7:30 p.m. The Cougars will play their third and final match of the tournament against the University of Idaho at 1 p.m. Saturday.

A live stream of the tournament can be accessed at