Cougs take a slice of the Apple in an epic five-setter
PULLMAN, Wash. – In a match that had everything and an instant classic in the record books of the Boeing Apple Cup series, Washington State volleyball (8-4, 2-0) came away with a statement win over No. 6 Washington, 7-3, 0-2) in an epic five-setter Sunday afternoon at Bohler Gym.
Set scores from the match were: 25-14, 23-25, 25-16, 44-46, and 15-11 in favor of the Cougars.
When the opening serve took flight early in the afternoon on the Palouse none of the 1,535 in attendance knew they would witness a piece of history, but a historic day would unfold in front of their eyes as the Cougs secured their home half of the rivalry series.
While the day would turn into an epic showdown between cross-state rivals the match did not start particularly close as the Cougs dominated the opening set to grab the early lead in the match. Scoring three kills in the first four points, Pia Timmer got the Cougs rolling early as WSU ran out to a 9-3 lead and never looked back. WSU was able to set the tone for the day with tough serving that took the Huskies out of system and forced them into bad spots that the Cougs could clamp down on defensively. In all, the Cougs led from first serve to finish dominating the net with six blocks including a a pair by Magda Jehlarova and Katy Ryan in the final three points to close out the opening set win.
Making wholesale changes to their lineup to begin the second set the Huskies evened the match at one set all at the break as an early lead held up despite the Cougs' best efforts late. After falling behind quickly the Cougs fought back taking their shots to grab control of the set only to be denied by the Huskies' attack. The set would draw even nine times as the Cougs battled to take the 2-0 advantage in the match, the last of which came at 19-19 when Ryan hammered down back-to-back kills putting WSU in position to take control. Despite the play by their freshman on the pin the comeback was not to be as the Huskies ran off three-straight points to recapture the momentum before edging out WSU at the finish to end the set.
With the match even at 1-1 the Cougs would get back on track out of the break, reestablishing their dominance on the pins early and often. Using their vaunted block to stymie the Huskies' attack once again, the Cougs put together a 10-3 run in the opening points of the frame, creating a gap the Huskies would not be able to close. During the run that put the Cougs up 12-6, Kalyah Williams came up big with a pair of blocks including a solo effort that capped off the scoring rally for her team. Williams block came on the heels of a stellar defensive play by the Cougs that saw Timmer come up with a sprawling dig to save the point followed by Penny Tusa finishing off the defensive rally for the Cougs with a solo block of her own, her only block of the contest. The Cougs would cruise to the third set victory behind five kills from Timmer as WSU outhit the Huskies .381-to-.083 in the frame.
After three relatively normal sets played between the two longtime rivals the fourth set would be anything but as the Cougs and the Huskies put the entire arena on their feet for what would be the most epic fourth set in NCAA volleyball history. The two sides would trade big runs early as the Cougs jumped out to a quick 11-6 lead only to see the Huskies respond with an 8-1 run of their own to take a two-point advantage midway through the set. The two-point advantage would be the largest lead either team would hold the rest of the way as the Cougs and the Huskies settled in for one of the longest back-and-forth battles in Division I history. Trailing 24-23 and the set on the line, the Cougs would stave off the first of 11 set-points for the Huskies in dramatic fashion when Timmer hammed down one of her 11 fourth-set kills to stop a 4-0 run by UW that put WSU's back against the wall. The Timmer kill was the first of four set points for UW before the Cougs turned the tables on the Huskies to take their first crack at winning the match at 28-27. Just as the Cougs had done the Huskies were up to the task, fighting off five match-points to keep the set moving. As the set wore on the legs on both sides began to tire as mistakes began to mount, particularly from behind the service line. Those service mistakes proved especially costly for the Cougs who saw the final three match-point attempts fall short allowing the Huskies the life needed to finally end the long fight on what would be their 11th set-point chance. In all the fourth set had 13 lead changes and 30 tie scores with the Cougs having 12 chances of their own to end the match only to come up just short.
The momentum from the previous frame would briefly carry over to the fifth and deciding set as the Huskies scored the opening four points of the finale to put the Cougs on their heels. Despite trailing early and emotionally spent from the previous set the Cougs would not let the Huskies steal the match out from under them in their own gym. With Timmer about to rotate into the backrow, setter Hannah Pukis found her big outside for the first time in the set to kick off a tide-turning rally by WSU. Timmer not only got it done at the net but also behind the service line as she came up with back-to-back aces that evened the set at 5-5 before Jehlarova dumped down an overpass on another mistake by the Huskies on Timmer's serve to give the Cougs the lead for good. When all was said and done the Cougs had pushed their lead to 9-6, a three-point advantage that would hold as the Huskies climbed within two at 13-11 only to see their final swings at the comeback sent back where they came thanks to Jehlarova and Timmer who combined for a pair of emphatic blocks to secure the victory.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Pia Timmer tied a WSU rally-score record with 31 kills on 76 swings while hitting an impressive .303 to lead the Cougs. Not only did she do everything on offense the junior was the Cougs' top defensive player as well as she came up with a career-bests in digs (21) and blocks (7) while serving up a career-best in aces (4).
INTO THE TWITTER-VERSE
𝘾𝙊𝙐𝙂𝙎 𝙒𝙄𝙉 𝙏𝙃𝙀 🍎🏆
— Cougar Volleyball (@WSUCougarVB) September 27, 2021
S4 (2-1) | @PiaTimmer lands her 20th kill of the match! It is the first career 20-kill match for the junior!!!
— Cougar Volleyball (@WSUCougarVB) September 26, 2021
- The Cougs won their eighth-consecutive match and fifth-straight at home in as many matches. It was their second win over a top-25 team.
- WSU improved won its fourth-straight contest against the Huskies, three of which have gone five sets including the last two contests.
- The win was the Cougs first over a top-10 team since defeating No. 9 Washington, 3-2, in Seattle in 2019. WSU's last three top-10 wins have all come against the Huskies.
- WSU saw its 13-set winning-streak at home snapped in the second set but picked up its first five-set win of the seasons and first since defeating No. 18 UCLA, Feb. 4, 2021.
- The 46-44 fourth set tied the NCAA record for points in a set in the 25-point era matching Santa Clara vs Saint Mary's (CA), Nov. 21, 2017.
- The 132 points scored by the Cougs matched Saint Mary's in the same match for the most scored by a team in the 25-point era.
- Pia Timmer's 31 kills tied for the most for a Coug in the rally-scoring era matching Meagan Ganzer who last tallied 31 at Colorado, Nov. 18, 2011. It was the most for a Coug at home in the rally scoring era while tying for fourth-most by a Coug in program history.
- Her 76 attempts were the most for a Coug since Taylor Mims attempted a program record 79 attack against Florida State in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, Dec. 1, 2017.
- Timmer added career highs in digs (21), blocks (7), and service aces (4).
- Timmer produced her third double-double of the season.
- Magda Jehlarova tied a career high with 10 blocks on the afternoon including one solo block. Her solo block moved her into a tie for 7th all-time alongside of her coach, Jen Greeny (Stinson) with 59 career solo blocks.
- Freshman Katy Ryan came up with a career-high 14 kills while hitting .500.
- Setter Hannah Pukis finished with her fifth double-double of the season with 53 assists and 11 digs. She moved into the all-time top-10 for assists with her fourth assist of the contest. She ended the contest with 2,043 career assists.
- The Cougs held their opponent to sub-.200 hitting for the fifth time in as many matches at home at Bohler Gym.
- Washington State continues Pac-12 play Sunday, Sept. 26 against No. 6 Washington in the first half of the Boeing Apple Cup Series. The match, at Bohler Gym, is scheduled for noon on the Pac-12 Network.