Cougs Fall to WKU in NCAA Tournament
OMAHA, Neb. – No. 15 seed Washington State Volleyball was defeated by the Hilltoppers of WKU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday evening from the CHI Health Center.
Set scores from the match were: 22-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-17 and 10-15 in favor of Western Kentucky.
This second-round contest between Western Kentucky (23-0) and Washington State (11-5), began in the favor of the Hilltoppers, as a 7-2 opening run saw WKU up on the Cougs. WSU has also found a way to fight back all season and continued to do so tonight, as WSU chipped away at the WKU lead until tying the set up at 17-17 overall. The Cougars took advantage of the WKU errors and kills from Julianna Dalton and Magda Jehlářová boosted the offensive attack. The Hilltoppers found slight separation with a 4-1 run to lead 23-20, forcing the Cougs to use a second timeout. WSU came out of that break firing with a kill from Pia Timmer and a huge ace from Julia Norville to only trail 23-22. Western Kentucky managed to close out the set however, 25-22.
The Cougars found some early success in set number two, after back-to-back kills from Jehlářová and Dalton. WKU once again managed to string consecutive points together to reclaim the advantage at 9-7 overall. The Cougars once again found themselves trailing midway through a set, but a 3-0 run featuring kills by Timmer, Dalton and an ace by Hannah Pukis cut the score to just 13-12. WSU would retake the lead from Western Kentucky at 15-14, after kills from Kalyah Williams and Timmer. WKU would shortly after post at 5-1 scoring run to hold down the 23-18 advantage. The Hilltoppers would unfortunately cling to that lead the remainder of the set, winning it 25-20.
The Hilltoppers of WKU were in control early once again, posting a 6-2 lead over the Cougars to begin set number three. These two programs went on to trade points, until the Cougs put together a 4-0 run as Alexcis Lusby recorded two kills and Penny Tusa added an ace to fuel the WSU comeback. Washington State began to return to true form late in this set as another 4-0 run pushed the Cougars ahead at 20-19 overall. The serving of Julia Norville sparked a fire for the Cougars as she tallied back-to-back aces. The Cougars closed out set three with a win at 25-21, after a kill from Dalton and another ace from Tusa.
The Cougs came out swinging in set number four, jump out to a 7-4 lead after multiple kills from Timmer, and yet another service ace from Norville. Western Kentucky closed the gap, tying the score up at 13-13, but the Cougars were prepared with a counter. A 4-1 run with kills from Lusby and Dalton paved the way for a WSU lead of 17-14. WSU would ultimately close out the set on an 8-1 scoring run to force set five at 25-17. Aria McComber recorded an ace during the run, along with multiple kills tallied from Magda.
The final set of this contest saw each squad deadlocked early on, but the Hilltoppers surged ahead with a 4-1 scoring run to lead 6-3 overall. The Cougs refocused and created a 4-0 run of their own, after kills from Timmer and Williams, along with another ace by Norville gave Washington State the 7-6 advantage. WSU and Western Kentucky traded points midway through game five, until the Hilltoppers went on a 5-0 scoring run to ultimately take the match at 15-10.
INTO THE TWITTER-VERSE
— NCAA Women's Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) April 16, 2021
- Magda Jehlářová led the Cougs with 14 kills, and a hitting percentage of .462 on the night. She added five total blocks in the contest and finished with 16.5 points.
- Julianna Dalton also contributed 14 kills in her NCAA Tournament debut, hitting .281 overall and posted four total blocks as well.
- Hannah Pukis posted a solid overall match with a double-double of 52 assists and 10 digs.
- Julia Norville posted incredible serving numbers in the match, totaling five aces, and added eight digs.