WSU volleyball rebounds with sweep at USC

No. 22 Washington State volleyball (14-8, 8-4) responded to a heart breaking five set loss to UCLA on Friday with a three set sweep over the Trojans (10-11, 6-6) on Sunday afternoon. Kalyah Williams and Hannah Pukis both had 12 kills to lead all attackers in the match.

Third set

Just like the second set, the first six points of the third set were split evenly between the two squads. A pair of back to back points gave the Cougars a two point lead; but USC wasn’t one to give in easy as they’d cut it to one several times…then WSU would push its lead back to two. That is until the Cougs went on a 3-0 run to push their lead to four at 10-6. Southern California took a timeout to try to regroup.

The timeout didn’t help as WSU scored the first three of the first five points out of the timeout. Pia Timmer’s 10th kill of the match pushed the Cougar lead to five at 14-9.

Even with Southern Californian’s more consistent offensive attack, the Cougar offense kept shredding it. Both sides swapt the next ten points witb an even split. Until Washington State went on a 3-0 run to push its lead to six at 20-14.

An attack error by USC handed the Cougars their 22nd point of the set and an eight point lead. It came in the middle of what turned out to be a 7-0 run that led to the Cougs first match point at 24-14. The third, and final set, was decided when Candice Denny’s attack error sailed out of bounds at 25-14.

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Second set

While the first set had opened with a Washington State run, the second set opened with the first six points evenly split between both squads. That is until Southern California went on a 4-0 run that forced Greeny to call a timeout after an attack error by Pukis. Weske’s first service ace of the match extended the run to 5-0 right out of the timeout and it was a 10-5 lead.

Washington State finally put an end to the run when Pukis and Williams earned another shared block to force an attack error. Unfortunately for the Cougs, the Trojans went on another 3-0 run to extend their lead to five before WSU scored its next point.

Pukis capped off a 3-0 run of the Cougars own as they cut Southern California’s lead in half at 13-10. USC took a timeout, but it didn’t stop WSU from scoring the first point out of the break to push its run to 4-0. A Pukis service error put an end to the run at 5-0 with the Cougars down 12-14.

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At that point, both sides started to swap points again. As the Cougars struggled to get closer than two. It was at 17-15 that Southern California scored a pair of unanswered points, which forced another Washington State timeout. Shannon Scully’s block right out of the timeout extended USC’s run to 3-0.

Williams fourth and fifth kill of the match cut the lead to three. Argentina Ung cut the lead down to two and extended the Cougar run to 3-0. Smith put an end to the run with a block and to give USC a 21-17 lead.

Williams responded with a block to get Southern California’s lead back to two. A service error by Timmer made it 19-22 USC. Timmer responded to that with a floater over the net and into a hole in the Trojans’ defense to make it 22-20 Southern Cal. The Trojans were forced to call a timeout after Basham’s service ace made it a one point set.

Southern California responded to the timeout by scoring the first point out of it. Washington State scored off of a dig went into the net before it bounced out of f bounds. An attack error by Owes tied it at 23 all.

Pukis’ service ace on the first set point for Washington State put the second set away at 25-23.

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First set

The first set opened with Washington State on a 3-0 run that was fueled by a pair of attack errors from the Trojans. USC’s first kill of the match came when Owens bounced it off of Tusa’s block and out of bounds. After Owens’ kill, both squads traded points and attack errors over the next five points. It was a double hit that cut the Cougars lead to one at 5-4.

Despite the the inability for either squad to put together a scoring run, WSU maintained a two point lead. Our first challenge of the match came on what was originally ruled WSU’s eighth point, the Trojans wanted to see if a Cougar hit was outside of the antenna. The ruling on the court was confirmed. Washington State managed to push its lead to four, but Southern California quickly cut it back down to two on consecutive plays.

The Cougars went on a 4-1 run, capped by USC’s Denny’s attack error as we headed into the first media timeout at a 15-10 lead for Washington State. Southern California has hit .056 with four service errors up to that point.

Timmer’s second kill of the match was challenged (a USC player was initially ruled to touch it at the net) but it was upheld and the Cougs led 16-10. Unfortunately, the junior’s went straight into the net. USC and Washington State began to trade points again as neither offense was able to really go on a run — the closest was when Southern California cut the lead to five after back-to-back points.

After more points were traded, SC went on a 4-1 run that cut the Cougar lead to 19-16. But a an attack error by Emilia Weske, off of a Williams and Pukis block, put an end to that run. The Trojans inability to put together more than two points in a row (in this set) is what kept Washington State in the lead…and typically with that lead around two to three points.

They kept trading points, until WSU earned its first set point at 24-21. A block by Jehlarova and Williams earned Washington State the first set win at 25-21.

Post match thoughts

  • That was good to see the Cougars bounce back with a road sweep. It helps them keep pace in the conference race; with a Bruins loss to Washington, the Cougs would still only be a game back.
  • The Cougars needed to come out of this weekend with (at minimum) a split to stay in the conference race, and that’s what they got. It would have been more beneficial for the win to come in Westwood on Friday…but it’s hard to complain, especially with how dominant WSU was throughout this match.
  • Washington State’s defense continues to be deadly to opposing offensive attacks as the Trojans hit 0.77 in the three sets on Sunday.
  • Despite the overall defensive dominance, WSU was out blocked by USC seven to 10. Just goes to show that blocks, while impressive, are not the best measure for a defense’s success on teh court.
  • It was a sloppy match on the offensive end for Washington State as there were 11 service errors, along with 16 attack errors, on Sunday. While that’s been uncharacteristic for this squad, it’s something to keep an eye on as we head down the final stretch.

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Photo Credit: Washington State Athletics

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