Volleyball heads home to take on Bruins

UCLA will be first ranked opponent of season for WSU



WSU alum Jocelyn Urias attempts to spike ball.

KAT MCKINNEY-ROLEY, Evergreen reporter

The No. 24 WSU volleyball team will look to keep their momentum going off of a series sweep as they take on the No. 18 University of California, Los Angeles Bruins this week on Feb. 4 and Feb. 6 in Bohler Gym.

Coming off of a split two-game series against Oregon and a sweep against Arizona State, the Cougars earned themselves a top-25 national ranking of 24th on the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. Opponent UCLA is currently ranked 18th on the same poll.

Redshirt sophomore setter Hannah Pukis led the way for WSU last week against ASU, as she led the team in both games in assists and digs with 45 and 20 on Thursday, and 42 and 14 on Saturday, respectively.

“Offensively, Hannah Pukis did a fantastic job of distributing, we didn’t have one-hitter with too many sets, and I thought our middles, Kalyah and Magda did a really nice job,” head coach Jen Greeny said.

UCLA (3-1) is coming off of one win and one loss against Oregon, which are the same results of when WSU played the Ducks in their opening week. The Bruins won both matches against Cal in their opening week of play.

“They have great ball control both defensively and passing,” Greeny said.

After an impressive performance against ASU, sophomore middle blocker Magda Jehlarova was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week. Jehlarova led the team in blocks on Thursday and was top-three on the team in kills, aces, and blocks on Saturday.

Last week, WSU saw explosive plays from sophomore outside hitter Pia Timmer and freshman outside hitter Julianna Dalton. Both players were tied for the most kills in the first match at 14, while Dalton was tied for first again in the second match with 12.

“I also think that Julianna Dalton is getting better every single match that she plays in as well,” Greeny said.

UCLA saw great performances against Oregon last week from senior outside hitter Mac May and junior defensive specialist and libero Zoe Fleck. May led the team in kills both games, scoring 24 and 14, while Fleck led both games in digs with 22 and 14, according to the UCLA athletics website.

“UCLA is a really good team; an experienced Mac May is arguably the best player in our conference,” Greeny said.

These matches will be WSU’s first against a ranked opponent this season, as their schedule will only get harder when they face No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 Utah, and No. 11 Washington.

Both teams are continuing to develop as a team and so are each team’s players. WSU does have quite the larger freshman class, but all the freshmen are proving each match that they are getting stronger and stronger.

Catch the Cougs play at 6 p.m. Thursday and at 11 a.m. Saturday. The matches can be live-streamed through the Pac-12 website.