WSU volleyball overcomes a slow start in the fifth set to beat No. 6 Washington

Washington State (8-4, 2-0) overcame a slow start in the fifth set, and a heart breaking fourth set loss, to beat rival No. 6 Washington to remain unbeaten at home on Sunday afternoon. Junior setter Pia Timmer had a career high 31 kills along with an impressive four service aces in the victory.

Fifth set

Head coach Jen Greeny was forced to call a timeout as the Huskies started the fifth set on a 3-0 run and her squad looked flat after the emotional tough fourth set loss. Washington State’s first points of the set came on a short serve by Claire Hoffman, and then the Cougs scored another point on an biggg block at the net.

A attack error by Timmer gave Washington control of the servers and pushed its lead back to three. She followed that up with her 29th kill of the match to close it within two. A service ace made it a 5-4 Husky lead; then a second straight service ace for Timmer tied it back at five. WSU took a 6-5 lead as another service ace helped the Cougs take control of the set. Emoni Bush was called for hitting the net after a review and the Cougs capitalized when Timmer hit another service ace to push their lead to three.

Unfortunately, Timmer’s service ace streak ended at four as he nailed the net. But Washington’s ensuing serve was long and the Cougs led 9-6. Kalyah Williams’ 13th kill pushed the Cougars lead back to three at 11-8. Timmer seemed determined to win this thing as she recorded her 30th kill to go up 12-9. Which the Huskies followed up with a double hit and a timeout as WSU lead 13-9 late in the fifth set.

WSU’s 13th match point, first of the fifth set, came after a monster block at 14-11. The Cougars blocked it at the next to finish off the fifth set and match victor at 15-11.


Fourth set

Penny Tusa scored the first service ace of the match, for either squad, to give the Cougs a 3-2 advantage. On the ensuing play WSU took a 4-2 lead on a kill by Williams but Pukis went down with an ankle injury…but she didn’t leave the game. Despite the injury to their setter, the WSU defense kept the Huskies off the board as Washington State went on a 6-1 run to take a 7-3 lead into a UW timeout.

The timeout help as the Cougs scoring run came to an end and both squads swapped points. Timmer’s 18th kill gave her squad a 9-5 lead, but Washington quickly responded to close within three again.

But the Huskies refused to be put away so easily as the outscored WSU 4-2 on the next six plays to close within two, 9-11. Washington’s run continued as they scored five unanswered points to take a 14-12 lead. Argentina Ung put an end to UW’s run to close within one; then an attack error but Emoni Bush tied it. Timmer’s career high 20th kill gave the Cougs the lead back. UW was forced to call a timeout as the Cougars 4-0 scoring run pushed their lead to 16-14.

Tusa’s serve was short which allowed the Huskies to tie it at 17 after a stretch where they outscored WSU 2-1. It was a stretch of mistakes, including a double hit on Pukis, that allowed Washington to take the lead again. The back and fourth nature of the match increased the tension in Bohler, and for those watching at home.

Ryan’s ninth kill of the match gave WSU 21-20 lead late in the fourth. Williams built it lead up to two on the ensuing rally. Which was fortunate as the Cougs next serve was long. UW put an end to WSU’s 3-1 run and ended up tying the set at 23 when Williams’ shot was blocked at the net.

Washington’s first set point came at 24-23 but Timmer tied it up with her 24th kill on the afternoon. The Huskies shot went out on their second set point, but a long serve by the Cougs gave UW it’s third set point of the fourth set…but the serve went into the net to tie it at 26. A challenge on (what was initially ruled an attack error) a play by Timmer determined that it didn’t touch a Husky which gave UW it’s fourth set point.

Jehlarova ensured that the fourth set would continue as she tied it at 27. Washington State earned its first match point on the ensuing play. Timmer’s serve was long and it was tied back up. The Cougs second match point came at 29-28 and they were unable to capitalize.

Ryan’s 10th kill gave WSU its third match point. A controversial tip on the ensuing serve tied it at 30. A third match point led to another tie. The fourth match point was not converted a UW tied it at 32.

Washington was unable to convert on two straight set points as a long serve tied it at 34. The back and fourth continued even through WSU’s fifth match point. Their sixth match point ended with a service error..but that was okay because they got another one at 38-37.

Timmer’s 26th kill gave the Cougars another chance to win, but the Bush tied it at 39. UW challenged what appeared to be a long hit, the call was reversed which gave UW another set point at 40-39. Timmer’s 27th kill tied it at 40; the Cougs failed to capitalize on their 10th match point, and Timmer’s 28th kill.

Ryan’s 13th kill gave the Cougs another chance to put it away, but another short serve kept UW in it. Fortunately the Huskies kindly responded with a service error to give the Cougs their 12th match point at 43-42. But it was not to be as a service error tied it and the Huskies followed up with a service ace and their ninth set point. A double point tied it at 44.

Williams just missed on a cross course shot and Washington had their tenth set point. Which they capitalized on to win the fourth set 46-44.

Third set

It was a 3-1 run by Washington that started off the third set, led by a pair of kills from Samantha Dreschel. But the Washington State front line was limited the Husky offensive attack and the Cougar offense ended up going on its 5-0 run to take a 6-3 lead. Timmer recorded her 14th kill of the match during that run.

While the Huskies scored three points to put an end to the Cougs initial run, WSU responded with another 7-2 run to take an 14-8 lead. But Dreschel’s eighth cut the lead to five…until a whistled blew the ensuing play dead and awarded the Cougs a point.

The third set felt a lot more like the first one as the Cougs were in control for most of it. Washington State built its lead up to nine, 20-11 at one point. Timmer responded with her 17th kill of the match. WSU then pushed it’s lead up to 10 on a kill from Lauren Sanders.

Katy Ryan put the third set away on Washington State’s first set point, 25-16. The Cougs took a 2-1 set advantage into the fourth.


Second set

The second set started better for No. 6 Washington as they opened up on a 4-1 run to take an early three point lead. Amani Bush was deadly at times in the beginning of the second set as she earned a couple of kills as the Huskies pushed their lead up to 6-3.

Timmer picked up her ninth kill in the match to cut No. 6 Washington’s lead to as her squad went on a 3-1 run to make it 6-7, UW. Washington was much more active on the net in the second set and it disrupted WSU’s attack. But the Cougar offense wasn’t to be kept silent as they responded in kind. The second set was a more back in forth affair. Williams was huge for the Cougars in the second set as she scored a pair of kills to keep WSU within one. Tusa tied it at ten.

A UW error gave the Cougs their first lead of set number two, 12-11. But a brilliant block by Bush gave tied it back up. It continued on this back and fourth manner throughout the middle of the set. The largest lead either team was able to build up was two, and that was 17-15 for Washington; but the Cougs quickly tied it up.

The back and fourth nature of the set continued until UW put on a 3-0 run, including a review on a point that clearly struck the line, to go up 22-19. WSU clawed it’s way back in and responded repeatedly. But the Huskies earned their first set point at 24-22, the Cougs responded by earning a point. Unfortunately Grote’s eighth kill put the second set away at 25-23, No. 6 Washington.

First set

Washington State raced off to a 4-1 lead in the first set, in part thanks to a trio of kills by Timmer. The Huskies would chip away at that lead, and an unforced error on a serve to close within one. But the Cougar offense didn’t let them hang around as they went on a 5-0 run to push the lead to 9-3. The home crowd made it hard to hear whistles at times as UW scored a couple of points but they were unable to get closer than four during the Cougars early dominance.

While Washington State built its lead up to six, by the Husky offense was not to be silenced as their hitters scored a couple of kills to keep pace with WSU. That is until the Cougs went on a 4-1 run to put their lead up to seven, 17-10. Timmer was practically unstoppable in the first set as she recorded six kills to keep that Cougar offense chugging. The Cougs largest lead of the match came when they built their lead up to nine at 21-12. But a couple of unforced errors by WSU put an end to that run.

The Cougs ended up building their lead to 10 by the time they rolled into their first set. And Washington State easily put the first set away, 25-14.


Post match thoughts

  • While Timmer’s offensive output will, deservedly, get most of the attention following the upset victory, WSU had three players with double digit kills on on Sunday. Ryan and Williams had 14 and 13 kills respectively.
  • The Husky defense, which had struggled in the past few matches, was much improved against the Cougars. Washington wracked up 13 blocks in the five set loss.
  • While the fifth set was a fairly comfortable win, the Cougars should have been able to end this match at multiple points in the fourth set. They had 12 match-points and on several occasions followed those up with service errors. It was frustrating to watch, but it ended up working out in the end.
  • Ryan led all hitters in the match with a hit percentage of .500, holy shit.
  • The Cougar defense not only racked up 17 blocks, but they also held Washington to a hit percentage of .159. That’s going to help them win a lot of matches, especially in the deep Pac-12.
  • The Cougars entered this weekend ranked No. 69 by RPI. That will dramatically improve after upsetting to top-25 squads at home. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Washington State earn its own ranking in the coaches poll.
  • If Pia Timmer doesn’t win her second Pac-12 player of the week award, this year, then the process is rigged.

Next up for the Cougars is a some home cooking against the LA schools; first up is USC on October 1st at 7:00 PM and then (currently ranked) No. 16 UCLA on October 3rd at 11:00 AM.

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Photo Credit: The Daily Evergreen