Volleyball Upsets No. 4 USC in Five-Set Thriller
PULLMAN, Wash. -- The Washington State volleyball team clawed back from a two-set deficit to upset No. 4 Southern California 11-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 21-19 Sunday afternoon before 661 fans in Bohler Gym. WSU moves to 17-12 overall and 4-12 in Pac-12 contests while USC is 22-5 overall and 12-4 in conference play.
“This team is ready to fight, and we’ve had some tough losses this year, but that’s why you play the game,” third-year WSU Head Coach Jen Greeny said. “USC is a tremendous team and I’m just really proud of the way we fought today and came back after being down 2-0 and made it happen. We talked about being disciplined about defense and getting our blocks in the right area and slowing them down just a little bit and we definitely did that in the last two sets.”
The fifth set was a nail-biter as USC raced to a 14-8 lead before a kill by Holt placed the serve in Sommer’s hands. A Trojans’ attack error was followed by a kill from Emmy Allen and USC took at timeout ahead 14-11. Sommer then served back-to-back aces and USC took another timeout with its lead down to one point, 14-13. Holt’s kill knotted the set at 14. There were five more ties in the fifth as the advantage see-sawed back and forth with USC serving for set three more times. At 19-all, USC was called for a lift and committed an attack error ending the set a 21-19 win for WSU.
WSU senior co-captain Camryn Irwin said, “I think just that we’re just trying to keep a consistent mentality, so coming into it we try and not get rattled no matter what the score is. After the first two sets, I think coming out of the game break that was the same message, ‘stay calm, stay consistent.’”
A trio of Cougars had double-doubles Sunday led by freshman Kyra Holt’s 13 kills, 19 digs and four blocks while junior Jaicee Harris’ 11 kills and career-high 28 digs, and freshman Haley MacDonald had 33 assists and 13 digs. Glab added 12 kills and seven blocks and freshman Hailey Bethune contributed 10 kills. Sophomore Kate Sommer led the team with 26 digs and Tani Stephens tallied a dozen digs.
“I think we just had an aggressive mentality,” WSU co-captain Glab said. “We came out we were a little bitter about the loss with UCLA. We’re like, hey why not? We can do that with any team, we just have to get our blocking defense going and I think that was the game changer.”
USC’s Samantha Bricio led the match with 22 kills and had 15 digs but the Pac-12 service aces leaders had one ace and five service errors. Ebony Nwanebu had 20 kills while Natalie Hagglund had 32 digs. Haley Crone had 33 assists and 18 digs. Alexis Olgard had a match-high 12 blocks with Sara Shaw adding seven more blocks. The much taller USC team out-blocked WSU 19 to 12 and the Trojans hit .228 for the match and held WSU to a .128 hitting percentage. USC tallied 110 digs to the Cougars’ 108 digs.
This was the second win over a ranked Pac-12 team for Greeny and the Cougars. WSU upset No. 16 Arizona State 3-2 in Pullman Oct. 11. The last time WSU defeated USC was in 2009, also in Pullman.
WSU travels to the Bay Area this weekend to take on No. 6 Stanford (20-5 overall, 13-3 Pac-12) and No. 20 California (17-8 overall, 10-6 Pac-12).