Cougars close home season in Bohler, splitting games against Cal, Stanford

The Cougar volleyball team concluded its home season over the weekend, beating Cal Friday and dropping its senior night game against No. 6 Stanford Sunday.


The Cougars (15-13, 4-12 Pac-12) came out excited in front of a jazzed Bohler Gymnasium crowd Friday night against California (9-18, 3-13) and rode a crisp offensive effort to a straight-sets victory over the Golden Bears, 25-23, 25-16, 25-21.

Freshman outside hitter McKenna Woodford recorded 14 kills to go along with two service aces and a .520 hitting percentage to pace Head Coach Jen Greeny’s team.

WSU out-hit Cal .305-.211 while limiting its attack error total to just 14 compared to the Golden Bears’ 21. A major point of emphasis in practice last week, the Cougars recorded eight blocks to Cal’s three and made it tough for Golden Bear hitters to find openings.

“I thought we played really good tonight, (with) a lot of confidence and did some great things so I’ll take the sweep anytime,” Greeny said. “I think for that first set it is always really important to take the win; it’s a little less pressure on us, a little pressure on the opponent.”

Last time out, WSU was missing leading outside hitter junior Kyra Holt and the offense sputtered as a result. Woodford – who led the Cougs with 13 kills three weeks ago in Berkeley – attributed both her offensive success and the team’s rebound to an improved defensive mindset.

“My game changed defensively because offensively we had Kyra, so my job was to stay in the passing game, help out on defense and just bring the energy because with your big hitter back that’s all you can do is bring your fight,” Woodford said. “We’ve been playing some situational games in practice where it’s 23-20 and we have to come back to win. You know, we’ve been in some tight sets this year and it feels great close this one out.”

Greeny opted to add more height and length to her starting lineup in hopes of disrupting the angles for Cal’s outside hitters, and inserted 6-foot, 5-inch sophomore outside hitter Casey Schoenlein and, 6-foot, 2-inch junior middle blocker Ashley Vander Tuig into the rotation. Together, they recorded a combined six blocks and 14 kills and gave the Cougars depth not present in the first meeting between the two teams.


Blocking was the primary focal point in practice for Washington State last week, and while improved, No. 6 Stanford’s (18-6, 12-4) was superior in its 3-1 victory Sunday over the Cougars.

WSU honored its lone senior, libero Kate Sommer before the first serve in Bohler Gymnasium, but could not send her off with one last home victory, dropping the match, 25-18, 20-25, 25-16, 25-18.

“They have a really good block all-around and they definitely overloaded me on the block and I struggled with that in this game,” junior setter Haley MacDonald said. “We had a few really good things today. At times our defense was really good in the right spot and that was due to our block.”

The Cougs blocked 12 shots – four more than what they tallied in their sweep of Cal Friday – though Stanford swatted 13 of its own and held WSU to a .169 hitting percentage. Stanford hit .292 for the match and used its superior length and lateral quickness to keep WSU scrambling on both ends throughout each frame.

“I think we let them go on too many runs,” WSU Head Coach Jen Greeny said. “During that second set I thought our blocking was tremendous and we served really well. Offensively we have to be better at limiting our unforced errors.”

Outside Woodford and junior Kyra Holt led the Cougar offense with 15 and 12 kills, respectively, while Holt netted a double-double with 12 digs. Seeing more time in the rotation this weekend, middle blockers Schoenlein and Vander Tuig combined for 13 blocks and 12 kills.

Up next for the Cougars is a trip down south to take on Oregon at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Oregon State at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The Pac-12 Networks will broadcast both matches.