No. 21 WSU volleyball overcomes two set deficit to beat ASU

No. 21 Washington State (16-8, 10-4) remained in third place, and only two games back of UCLA (20-3, 13-2) in the conference, with a reverse sweep of Arizona State (13-12, 6-8) on Sunday afternoon at Bohler Gym.

The Cougars overcame a slow start in the first two sets to dominate the final three sets in route to the victory. Magda Jehlarova led the Cougars with 21 kills, while Pia Timmer and Penny Tusa led the team with five service aces each in the victory.

Fifth set

In the first six points scored, both sides evenly split the points — after ASU challenged a service foot fault, it was confirmed. Pia Timmer recorded her fifth service ace, and then her 17th kill on the succeeding rally. Another block by Magda Jehlarova gave WSU its first lead of the fifth set.

Arizona State took a timeout after an attack error by Geli Cyr as it trailed by 4-7. Out of the timeout the Sun Devils scored the first point as a block sailed out of bounds to cut the WSU lead to two. The Cougars 9-2 run out a lot of pressure on ASU in the final set as they became the first squad to reach 10 points.

Hannah Pukis’ third kill of the match pushed the Cougar lead to five at 11-6 which forced the Sun Devils to take their second timeout of the set. A challenge on a touched net call, against ASU, was overturned and the point was replayed. A Kalyah Williams kill was the result of the rally and it pushed the lead out to six for WSU.

Penny Tusa’s fifth ace gave the Cougars their first match point. Timmer’s 18th kill put the set away at 15-6 and secured the reverse sweep.

Fourth set

Washington State’s defense started off the fourth set with a couple of key block as both squads split the first four points. But the defense struggled with communication on the next two points. Then a 3-1 run for WSU knotted it up at five.

Timmer’s 13th kill made it 6-7 as the Sun Devils offense seemed to find their footing in the middle of the fourth set.

In the end it didn’t matter as Pia Timmer made the fourth set her show while the Cougs went on a 10-2 run that included a Timmer ace (her fourth) to push the lead to 16-9 before the Sun Devils took a timeout. That run included Jehalorva’s 18th kill (on 21 attacks) which was a career high on an insanely efficient offensive performance.

Jehlarova’s 19th kill pushed the lead to eight, and then it was followed by an ASU attack error to push it to nine. The Sun Devils has completely imploded in the fourth set as Washington State built its lead to 19-9 thanks to an impressive block by Magda.

The Cougar run came to an end when Claire Jeter’s kill cut it to nine. But a service error by the Sun Devils pushed the lead back to 10 at 20-10. It was absolute domination by WSU in the middle of the set.

A 5-1 scoring run for Sparky cut the WSU lead to six as head coach Jen Greeny took a timeout.

Williams got the first kill out of the timeout. But the Cougs failed to string together a run down the stretch to truly put Arizona State away. The 15th ace of the match for WSU, a program record, gave the Cougars their first set point; which they weren’t able to capitalize on. It was the second set point that Washington State was able to put the fourth set away at 25-17 to force a fifth set.

Third set

Timmer refused to let WSU go quietly as her service ace gave her squad a 4-0 run to start off the third set. But that ended with a kill by Iman Isanovic.

Arizona State didn’t let the lead shake it though as the offense went on a 3-0 run to cut the Cougar lead to one; that run came to an end with an attack error. Both squads struggled with attack errors throughout the early part of the third set.

The Cougars never really nuke a significant lead in the early str to etch or the set as Arizona State made digs at the most opportune time. ASU challenged a tip call on Washington State’s tenth point — the first challenge of the match — and it was overturned which lean that the score was tied at nine. Jehlarova’s 12th kill gave WSU a 10-9 lead that the Sun Devils quickly erased.

At this point, both squads began to swap points. That is until the Cougars went on a 4-0 run into ASU took a timeout after a Timmer ace. Out of the timeout, the Cougars built their lead up to 17-11 on a 4-0 run. Which forced another timeout from the Sun Devils.

The Sun Devils scored the first three points out of the second timeout to cut Washington State’s lead to 17-14. Both squads then proceeded to swap points as the Cougar lead became 19-15 before the Cougars went on a 3-0 run to take a 22-16 lead.

Washington State earned its first set point at 24-18. Unfortunately a service error by Timmer, the Cougs 8th of the afternoon, gave the Sun Devils the serve on the Cougs second set point; a service error by ASU gave the Cougs its first set win of the afternoon at 25-19.

Second set

The sloppy play from the first part of the first set continued for WSU in the early part of the second. As the of the first four points went to Arizona State due to poor hitting and positioning on defense. Isanovic recorded her eighth kill of the match ti make it a 3-1 ASU lead.

Washington State’s offense began to click, despite the defensive issues, as they went on a 4-0 run to take a 5-1 lead before a service error by Pukis out an end to it. Jehlarova recorded an impressive kill to extend the lead back to two, and that was followed up by block split between her and Ryan to make it 7-4. The Cougars kept their lead around three for the next several points.

WSU’s largest lead of the match, up to this point, was 10-6. Back-to-back service aces by Tusa pushed the lead up to six (13-7) when ASU took a timeout.

Out of the timeout, Arizona State scored four of the first five points; thus included a couple of service errors. Marta Levinska’s sixth kill of the match made it 12-14 with Washington State in the lead. It looked like Sparky was going to climb back into the set when the Cougars went on a 3-0 run to push their lead back up to five.

The run extended out to 6-0 to get the Cougar lead up to six at 20-14 before Arizona State was able to put an end to it. However, the Sun Devils were not going to go quietly as they went on a 3-0 run to cut the lead in half before Timmer’s sixth kill put an end to the run.

Arizona State cut the lead down to two points as the hits kept finding holes in WSU’s defense. A 3-0 Sun Devils’s run tied it at 23 before Greeny took a timeout. A service ace out of the timeout gave Sparky their first set point of the second set. The set ended with a 25-23 ASU win off of second straight service ace.

First set

The first four points of the first set went to ASU. Williams point an end to the Sun Devils 4-0 run with a cross court kill that fell inside the line. It was part of a mini-run from Washington State that ended on an attack error that went long at 5-2. Timmer recorded her second kill of the match and then Ryan tied it at five with her first kill.

While it went back and forth for a while, Arizona State went on a 4-0 run to take a 10-6 lead. But the Cougars weren’t far behind as they went on their own 4-0 run to tie it up with an ace by Norvile. After it was tied, Sparky went on a 3-0 run to take a 13-10 lead into the first media timeout.

The run continued as Jeter’s serve hit the net and then fell on the WSU side of it. Arizona State’s run reached 7-0 to take a 17-10 lead before Greeny called a timeout to try and get control of the situation. Unfortunately the timeout didn’t help as Sparky scored the next point out of the timeout. It was a service error by Jeter that got WSU its first point in the last nine.

It was an uncharacteristically sloppy first set for WSU as the defense was frequently out of position and the offense had multiple attack errors. The offense did start to come a live and went on a 4-0 run down by 10. And it close the gap to five at one point as the Sun Devils took their first timeout at 23-18; the Cougs had scored eight of the last 11 points.

Out of the timeout, ASU earned its first set point off of a tipped ball that went out of bounds at 24-18. Williams scored the net point to get the Sun Devils’ lead back to five, and for the second set point. The third set point ended with a Tusa service ace to make it 24-21. Unfortunately the fifth set point was where ASU won the first set at 25-21.

Post match thoughts

  • Jehlarova’s performance is the main reason WSU staid alive in the early sets. She had 21 kills on 25 attacks for a hit percentage of .840.
  • Arizona State’s Iman Isanovic is insanely good. Her 28 kills lead all attackers while hitting .426 on Sunday afternoon.
  • Kalyah Williams had 10 kills despite hitting .125 on the afternoon, but her kills were well timed and helped put an end to several ASU runs.
  • This was an uncharacteristically sloppy match for the WSU defense as the Sun Devils hit .281 in five sets. The good news is that the Cougs did have 13 blocks and only two block errors in the match.
  • Arizona State had 50 digs — compared to the Cougs 48 — but it wasn’t enough to stop the Cougs from completing the reverse sweep.
  • The 18 service aces is now a program record in a single match.

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Photo Credit: WSU Athletics