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Cougs fall in four to USC

Oct 1, 2021

PULLMAN, Wash. – Riding an eight-match winning streak into the new month Washington State (8-5, 2-1) could not keep its fortunes rolling into October as USC (6-6, 2-1) came to the Palouse ended the Cougs winning ways with a 3-1 victory Friday night at Bohler Gym. 

Set scores from the match were: 25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18 in favor of the Trojans.

In a match of runs it was the Trojans who would come out on top as the Cougs could not find their rhythm throughout the contest to build a sustained attack. After a 5-1 run of their own to take a late 17-16 lead in the opening set, the Cougs could not hold back a Trojan rally as USC used a tough serve to push WSU of system and out of whack, scoring four of the next five points to grab a control. While the Cougs would close the gap to just one at 21-20 thanks to a service error by the Trojans, the comeback was not to be as USC put down three-straight kills to post set point before finishing off the frame two points later. 

Falling behind midway through the second set the Cougs were forced to play catchup nearly the entire way as the Trojans kept the lead just out of reach of WSU before pulling away late with another run, this time a 5-0 spurt that turned an 18-17 lead into an insurmountable 23-17 advantage. Once again it was the Trojan serve that forced the Cougs into scramble mode allowing USC to pressure the net and side-out its way to a 2-0 match lead. 

With their backs against the wall and trailing 21-17 in the third set the Cougs would not go down quietly as Karly Basham turned the tables on the Trojans with a sustained service run that netted WSU six-straight points and a lead they would not give back. The Cougs would cap the run on an epic back-and-forth rally with the Trojans that saw 10 different attacks on either side finally ending when the Trojans went into the net on a Pia Timmer attack. In all the Cougs would close the set on an 8-1 run, finishing things off with a block from Katy Ryan and Magda Jehlarova.

Despite the run to end the third saving the Cougs from the sweep the match comeback was not in the cards as the Trojans went back to the blueprint from the opening two sets, rallying late to end the night in four. Again, it was a big run by the Trojans at the service line that gave the Cougs trouble as USC rolled off seven-straight points to turn a two-point deficit into a five-point lead at 19-14. The lead would hold for USC as the Trojans put to rest any hopes of miracle finish for the Cougs to send WSU down to defeat for the first time at home in 2021.

Setter Hannah Pukis posted a season-high with five blocks, her best blocking night since recording six against Colorado Oct. 24, 2019. She would add 43 assists and nine digs to go with three kills.

  • The Cougs saw their eight-match winning streak come to an end as well as their five-match home winning streak with the loss to the Trojans. The loss also snapped a two-match winning streak against the Trojans as the teams met for the first time since 2019.
    • The loss was the first for the Cougs since a four-set loss at UNLV Sept. 4 in Las Vegas.
    • The loss marked the first at home for the Cougs since falling to Arizona April 3 the previous season.
  • USC became the first team to outhit the Cougs on their home court and first opponent to hit over .200 as the Trojans finished the match hitting .266 to the Cougs' .190.
  • Pia Timmer was the lone Coug to reach double-figures in kills finishing with a match-high 17 kills on 50 attacks. She added 12 digs to finish her off her fourth double-double of the season.
  • Magda Jehlarova finished the match with eight kills, four blocks, and a career-best seven digs.
  • The Cougs posted double-digit service errors for the second-straight game with 12 in the match while the seven service aces for the Trojans was a season-high against WSU.
  • Washington State finishes its four-match homestand against No. 15 UCLA Sunday at Bohler Gym. The match is scheduled for an 11 a.m. first serve.