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Heartbreak as the Cougs fall in five to No. 15 UCLA

Oct 3, 2021

PULLMAN, Wash. – Despite a career day out of their freshman Katy Ryan and holding match point in hand Washington State (8-6, 2-2) could not finish off the upset of No. 15 UCLA (10-2, 3-1) as the Bruins escaped Bohler Gym with a five-set victory Sunday afternoon. 

Set scores from the match were: 20-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-17, 20-18 in favor of the Bruins.

After splitting the opening two sets the battle on the Palouse came down to extra points in a fifth and decisive set as the Bruins fought off six match points by the Cougs to steal the win and send WSU down to defeat for the second time on the weekend. As it would be throughout the entire day the final set would come down to razor-thin margins as an overturned call turned a 14-11 lead for the Cougs into a 13-12 advantage, keeping the Bruins alive in the match. While the Cougs would claim their first match-point on a kill by Magda Jehlarova the Bruins looked to their all-american on the outside, Mac May to save the day. May would respond in kind as she posted her 37th, 38th , and 39th kills of the match to put down the first three match point attempts for the Cougs. While May came up big for the Bruins it was Ryan who kept putting the Cougs within inches of the win as the right-side standout drilled her 18th and 19th kills of the match to put WSU on the brink. However it was all for naught as the Cougs could not put the finishing touches on the top-25 win, finally succumbing to the pressure as the Bruins rolled off three-straight points to close out the win on their first match point attempt of the contest.

To get to the fifth and final set the two teams traded sets with the Cougs using their defense to win the first and third sets while it was the Mac May show in the second and fourth frames for the Bruins.

Behind the block of the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week the Cougs dominated the opening set against the Bruins, turning a tight opening frame into a comfortable win. Tied at 13-13 the Cougs ran off five of the next six points in the contest, completely sealing off the net as Jehlarova came up with four blocks including three solo efforts as the Cougs pushed their lead to five at 19-14, the final margin of victory in the set for WSU. While the defense broke things open it was the offense that finished things off as Kalyah Williams went to work in the middle, coming up with the final three kills of the frame to give the Cougs the 1-0 lead. In all, the Cougs held the Bruins to just .081 hitting in the set while finishing with five total blocks, four of which came in the critical run that broke the set open.
The Bruins would flip the script on the Cougs in the second set as it was UCLA with a late run to even the match at one set a piece. Tied at 19-19 the Bruins ran off three-straight points to grab control of the set led by May who came up with two of her set high nine kills to grab the momentum of the match from WSU.
Leaving the second set in the past the Cougs got back on track with a third set win, holding off a late charge by the Bruins to take back control of the match. The Cougs were able to cushion the blow by the Bruins thanks to a late run of their own, turning a 19-18 set into a 23-19 lead kicked off by a kill and a block from Pia Timmer. While the four-point lead would disappear the Cougs would not be deterred as WSU put down the thoughts of a Bruin comeback with kills from Ryan and Williams, the sixth of the set for the Coug middle.
Looking back to their all-american outside, the Bruins went back to the pin and to May in the fourth set to even the afternoon match at 2-2 and send the contest to a winner-take-all set. Once again, May came up with nine kills in the set alone to power the Bruins, out-gunning the Cougs young lefty, Ryan, who tallied five kills to lead WSU's attack.

Freshman opposite Katy Ryan produced a season-best 19 kills while hitting .485 to lead the Cougs attack.



  • The Cougs dropped their second-consecutive match with the loss to the Bruins, falling to 5-2 at home on the year. 
  • WSU fell to 1-2 on the year in five-set matches.
  • The loss was the Cougs' second-straight to UCLA at Bohler Gym after splitting the spring series the previous season.
  • Katy Ryan led the team with a season-best 19 kills while adding a season-best four digs and tallying two blocks.
  • Pia Timmer recorded her third-straight double-double (fifth of the season) as she posted 18 kill to go with 10 digs.
  • Magda Jehlarova finished with seven kills to go with eight blocks including three solo efforts.
  • Hannah Pukis moved into sole possession of 9th all-time on the Cougs assist list passing Ashley Brown. She finished the match with 2,236 career assists.
    • Pukis recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 51 assists and a team-high 14 digs.
  • Penny Tusa moved into a tie for 6th all-time in career aces with Kyra Holt after posting three aces to bring her all-time total to 123.
  • Washington State hits the road for a two-week, four-match road trip beginning Oct. 7 at Arizona State. The match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. first serve.