No. 22 Cougar volleyball holds on against No. 16 Ducks in five set classic

No. 22 Washington State (18-9, 12-5) avoided the reverse sweep against No. 16 Oregon (20-7, 11-6) on Thursday night in Bohler Gym. It was an instant classic that saw the three attackers reach double digit kills to fill in the absence of Pia Timmer.

Fifth set

The first six points of the final set were split evenly between the two squads. Hannah Pukis had an impressive no-look kill to tie it at three. Oregon ended up challenging WSU’s fourth point on whether or not it hit the ground or not; and won to force a replay of the point. It ended up not mattering as Katy Ryan’s 11th kill tied it at four.

Back-to-back service errors by both squad kept it tied as neither side was able to go on a run in the early part of the service error. That was followed up by the third straight service error; the streak came to an end on the next serve.

Magda Jehlarova tied it at six as both squads kept pace. Pukis had a huge block to give WSU its first lead of the set, and then an attack error by the Ducks gave Washington State a 4-0 run to make it an 9-6 Cougar lead. Oregon took a timeout.

Both sides scored out of the time out as they swapped the next four points as WSU lead 11-8. Another Duck timeout was called with Washington State pushing its lead to four at 12-8.

The first point out of the timeout went to the Ducks. They also scored the next point to cut the Washington State lead to two at 12-10. Kalyah Williams ended up with a kill that pushed the Cougar lead to three. But Oregon scored the next point to make it a 13-11 WSU lead.

Williams gave the Cougars their first match point at 14-11. Ryan’s tip unfortunately went out of bounds, which meant another match point for WSU at 14-12.

Ryan put away the Ducks at 15-12 for the fifth set win.


Fourth set

The fourth set started off with an Oregon service error that gave WSU a 1-0 lead. It took until the third point of the set for Oregon to score. That was the start of a 5-0 run before the Cougs were forced to take a timeout behind 2-5.

Penny Tusa earned the first point out of the timeout on an impressive cross court kill. Washington State challenged a touch call at the net, it was overturned and the lead for Oregon was whittled down to one. Argentina Ung then hit the ball out of bounds to push the Duck lead to two. Magda Jehlarova cut it back to one and then Hannah Pukis tied it at six.

WSU’s first lead came on a double contact against a Oregon as the Cougars went on a 3-0 scoring run. While Oregon tied it at seven, Williams quickly put Washington State back into the lead with her sixth kill. At this point both squads swapped points as neither side was able to go on a scoring run.

The Ducks earned the lead on a service ace that hit a member of the Cougs back line. A Williams attack error helped Oregon establish a 3-0 scoring run. Fortunately, a service error for Oregon put an end to the Ducks run to make it 11-10. But WSU was now trailing and need to go on a run of its own.

That needed run didn’t materialize for a while as the Ducks maintained a two point lead. In fact, Oregon was the squad that went on a 3-0 run to force a Cougar timeout.


Out of the timeout, the Cougars scored the first two points to cut the Oregon lead to three. Unfortunately, the Ducks put an end to any scoring run after an impressive rally on both sides. That was followed by another Oregon point to make it 19-14.

Oregon went on a 4-0 run that came to an end on a service error. But the damage had been done as the Ducks were now up 22-16. There wasn’t a lot WSU’s defense was able to do to contain Oregon’s attackers. Ryan making her way back onto the court gave the Cougar offense a boost; but it didn’t stop Oregon from earning its first set point at 24-17.

An attack error into the net kept the Cougars hopes of a fourth set win alive. And then Tusa followed that up with a kill to make it 24-19 at the media timeout as we headed into the third set point for the Ducks.

Out of the timeout, it was a service ace for WSU to make it 24-20. Unfortunately, a service error resulted in a 25-20 set win for the Ducks to force a fifth set.


Third set

A service error for Karly Basham started off the third set with Oregon’s first point. The Ducks also scored the second point of the third set. But Jehlarova’s seventh kill of the night gave WSU its first point. Unfortunately for the Cougs is that the Ducks immediately responded at 3-1.

Tusa nailed the block and it went out of bounds to cut the Ducks lead to one. However, it didn’t take long for Oregon to push its lead back to two. A net violation on the Ducks made it 4-3 which was followed up by a block that tied it. And then the seventh ace of the night for WSU, this one by Jehlarova, gave the Cougs their first lead of the night at 5-4.

Oregon tied it at six on the strength of back-to-back points. There was an intense rally with some brilliant digs by both sides that led to a Duck point and a 7-6 lead for the visitors. Their lead was extended to two as they pushed the run to 3-0.

Washington State put an end to the Ducks run thanks to an Oregon dig knocking the back right into the net. Oregon responded with another kill to make it a 9-7 lead. There was a questionable infraction called on Hannah Pukis to make it 11-8 Oregon. But Jehlarova’s eighth kill cut Oregon’s lead back to two.


At this point, both sides began to swap points as neither offense was able to go on a run. That is until the Ducks scored back-to-back points as Jen Greeny called a timeout with the Cougs down 13-9.

Out of the timeout an attack error made it 14-9 Oregon. WSU hit double digits on the next point to cut the Ducks lead to four. Washington State’s fourth attack error, of the third set, made it 16-10 Oregon before a service ace for the Cougs got them back on the board.

The Cougars got a net violation, and then went on to reel off three of the next four points to cut into the Oregon lead. With the Cougar defense completely out of position, the Ducks scored their 19th point of the set to extend their lead to five at the media timeout.

Out of the timeout, the Ducks has an attack error; it was a mistake that was followed up with a service error to shrinks their lead to four. Unfortunately a service error for Washington State pushed it backed to five.

A controversial tip call was challenged by the Ducks and was overturned which meant the point went to Oregon. Katy Ryan earned her ninth kill to make it a 22-17 Duck lead.

Unfortunately a mini 2-0 run was put to an end but a Basham dig error to make it 23-18 Oregon. Jehlarova got another kill to make it a four point Oregon lead. She followed that up with her second straight kill and get WSU back into the 20 points.

Oregon’s first set point of the match was not challenged by WSU at 24-20. But it became the Jehlarova show at that point as she made it 24-21; that was followed up by a kill for the Cougs to make it 24-22. The Cougars went on a 3-0 run to make it 24-22 before Oregon took a timeout.

Unfortunately the Cougars weren’t able to tie it at 24 and the Ducks won the third set 25-23. It was Oregon’s first set win against WSU in 2021.


Second set

Out of the set break, the Ducks scored the first point of the second set. Ryan quickly responded for WSU with her third kill of the night. The Ducks offense played much cleaner early on in the second set as they went on a 3-0 run that was put to an end by Jehlarova’s fourth kill of the night at 4-2 Oregon.

At this point, it became a back and fourth affair (again) as Oregon struggled to push its lead past four. Tusa’s ace cut further into Oregon’s lead at two as Washington State went on a mini run of its own. Unfortunately an attack error by Tusa put an end to that run as Oregon led by three.

The Cougars prevented Oregon from runs of its own until back-to-back points made it a 10-6 lead for Oregon. A service error by the a Ducks cut their lead back down to three. That was followed by an attack error for Oregon to cut its lead back down to two at 10-8. Ung’s ace made it a 3-0 run for WSU as the Duck lead was cut to one.

It became tied at 10 after the Ducks made contact with the net. And then a block for the 5’8” Tusa made an impressive block to give the Cougs their first lead of the set on a 5-0 run.


Bacon put an end to the Cougar run to tie it at 11. But the Cougs quickly reclaimed the lead. At that point WSU went on a 3-0 run as the Cougs had scored eight of the last 11 points. Ryan bounced one off of a pair of blockers to help Washington State become the first squad to 15. Oregon was forced to call a timeout at 16-12 with WSU on a 5-0 run.

Oregon scored the first point out of the timeout. But the Cougars were on a tear as they ripped off the next two points. For every point the Ducks scored, Washington State scored two.

Washington State ended up going on a 3-0 run that came to an end at 22-16. The Ducks scored their second straight point and then their third straight to cut WSU’s lead to four.

The Ducks run came to an end when Oregon whiffed on a block on a Ryan attack. Unfortunately, WSU wasn’t able to string together a run as an attack error made it 23-19.

Washington State’s first set point came at 24-19 and a service ace turned it into a 25-19 second set win.


First set

WSU volleyball earned the first point of the set on a double contact for the Ducks. But Oregon was quick to respond as both squads swapped the first six points with an even 3-3 split. The first challenge of the game overturned a dig to make it 5-4 for Oregon.

But that one point lead didn’t stand very long as the Cougars made it a 6-5 WSU lead on a mini 2-0 run. The Ducks were quick to tie it back up.

It was a Williams a miss direction and a Oregon attack error to give WSU its first double digit lead of the night. That lead was extended by another attack error by the Ducks to make it a 3-0 run. And then an ace made it a 4-0 run at 10-6 and an early Oregon timeout.

An Ung service error put an end to the Cougar run at 10-7. The Ducks scored the next point to cut the Cougar lead down to two. Ryan put an end to Oregon’s mini run to make it an 11-8 lead at the next serve. At this point the set resumed its back-and-forth tendency as WSU struggled to push its lead past three over the next six points.

A short service ace for Jehlarova pushed the Cougar lead out to five on a 4-0 run at 16-11. Which forced another Duck timeout.


Robinson put an end to the Cougs’ run out of the timeout. But Ung’s first kill of the match snuck past Oregon’s defender and made it another five point lead. The Ducks responded (again) and the first set settled back into it the back-and-forth affair.

A mini 2-0 run cut WSU’s lead to three at 17-14 before a Oregon attack error put an end to its run.

An impressive save by Basham kept a point alive and the Cougars turned it into a point. That came in the middle of a 4-0 run to make Washington State’s lead six at 21-15 prior to a service error. Greeny challenged a touch at the net; it was a successful challenge that made it 22-16 in favor of Washington State.

WSU were on a dominant tear at the end of the first set as the Cougars went on a 8-1 run to win the first set at 25-16.

Out of the timeout a block error gave the Ducks the first point. The Cougars, however, we’re still on a tear on the offensive end as they scored the next two points.


Post match thoughts

  • What an absolute clutch performance from Jehlarova (15 kills), Ryan (12 kills), and Williams (10 kills). Without the offense’s leading scoring threat, all three stepped up admirably.
  • Pukis and Ung both had nine kills each, while Tusa had eight on the night. It was an overall balanced offensive attack for the Cougars to upend the Ducks.
  • It was not the match for servers as both squads combined for a total of 20 service errors.
  • Washington State’s slim hopes in the conference race are still alive; although a UCLA win over Arizona State on Friday puts those hopes to bed. Which means we’re all big ASU volleyball fans tomorrow.

Washington State’s next match is the home finale, and senior night, against Oregon State at noon.

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