Cougar volleyball spooked by top-ten teams in Bohler

There were no treats to be found for Cougar volleyball over the weekend as they dropped matches against No. 8 UCLA and No. 1 USC.


The cardinal rule in sports of valuing each possession was never more abundantly clear all season for the Washington State volleyball team (14-9, 3-8) than in its loss to No.8 UCLA (18-3, 9-2) on Friday in four sets. Set scores were 25-13, 25-20, 23-25, and 25-16 in Bohler Gymnasium Friday night.

The Bruins height and length limited the Cougar offense all game long, forcing 35 attack errors and holding WSU to a .087 hitting percentage. Never breaking away from setter Zana Muno- who finished with 37 assists- and digging much of the quality attacks from the Cougars, UCLA found holes in the WSU defense and held control of the ball for much of each set.

“There definitely was some inconsistency offensively and I think that’s why we put so many different people in just trying to get a flow,” Cougar Head Coach Jen Greeny said. “I really didn’t think our blocking was up to what it has been.”

Outside hitters McKenna Woodford and Kyra Holt each recorded double-doubles and led the Cougar offense but any time either player began to find a rhythm and string series of kills together, the Bruins adjusted their defensive formation to force other Cougars to try and beat them. Woodford, a freshman, had 13 kills and 10 digs while the junior Holt tallied 11 kills and 17 digs and gave WSU some stability offensively.

“There were some good things,” Greeny said. “I thought McKenna Woodford did a pretty nice job; she had a double-double, 13 kills and 10 digs. We out-dug them for probably the first time in quite a few matches. Our defense was good, just blocking and our offensive numbers need to pick up.”

Whenever WSU began to shift the momentum of a set in its favor, UCLA always had an answer. The Bruins hit .271 for the match and out-blocked the Cougars nine-five. Jordan Anderson picked apart the Cougars with 20 kills (.311) and Reily Buechler had 16 kills (.342). UCLA out-dug the Cougars 66-60 and was able to limit the WSU offense largely in part to 6-6 middle blocker Claire Felix’s six blocks.

Hayley MacDonald led all players with 40 assists while Hailey Bethune added 10 kills and three blocks for WSU. Senior libero Kate Sommer finished the game with 18 digs for the Cougars.

“It was just the same thing really throughout the game,” Greeny said. “Better possessions, better blocking.”


Battling to the very end, the Cougars (14-10, 3-9) took No. 1 USC (23-1, 11-1) to five sets on Sunday in scores of 20-25, 25-19, 25-19, 19-25, and 15-13. Coming off of their first loss of the season to No. 5 Washington on Friday, the Trojans were given a much stiffer challenge than anticipated from WSU.

Bouncing back from a disappointing effort against No. 8 UCLA on Friday, WSU stayed aggressive on offense while countering Trojan attacks into points of their own in an inspired effort all-around.

“I thought we were aggressive offensively and that’s something we haven’t really done lately,” WSU Head Coach Jen Greeny said. “I’m really proud of the way we hit the ball and we were resilient. You know, if something didn’t quite go our way we came back and fought. And I just really, really like seeing that out of the team and the communication as well. “

Cougar freshman McKenna Woodford led the team with a career-high 22 kills, and had eight digs, one ace and one block. Kyra Holt had another double-double match with 19 kills and 14 digs while Ashley Vander Tuig had a career-high eight blocks.

Paced by setter Hayley MacDonald’s 48 assists, the Cougars were able to rally all throughout the match and keep the Trojan offense at bay long enough to take the match as far as it could possibly go before falling.

“I liked the way I came back after making a mistake,” Woodford said. “That’s something I’ve been focusing on because I get into these runs and then I kind of shut down. And so I thought, ‘you mess up and you move on.’ We had a really big talk on Friday after that game about finding our groove again, finding each other, sticking together, and just figuring it out. This game compared to two days ago was a completely different WSU team.”

The effort may not have been quite enough to knock off the nation’s top-ranked team, but it was definitely an effort a rebuilding program can establish momentum off of to carry into the final six games of conference play.

“I definitely thought our blocking was much better this afternoon and I think it was a great product of our serving,” Greeny said. “We served extremely tough against the No. 1 team in the country, a very, very good team, that has a lot of weapons, so just proud of our team overall. McKenna Woodford had a tremendous afternoon as a freshman (so) really proud of her and she stepped up big.”