Dancing Again, Cougs back in the NCAA Tournament
PULLMAN, Wash. – For the sixth consecutive season Washington State is dancing as the Cougs earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as announced Sunday evening. WSU heads to Waco, Texas to take part in the Baylor regional hosted by the 5-seed, Baylor Bears. The Cougs are one of just 17 teams to qualify for the last six NCAA Tournaments after earning their spot in the 2021 championships.
The Cougs will take on Northern Colorado in the opening round of the tournament, Thursday, December 2 with the second round taking place a day later on Dec. 3. Regional semifinals are Thursday, Dec. 9, and the regional finals Dec. 11. The national semifinals are Thursday, Dec. 16, with the 2021 national championship on Dec. 18. Championship weekend will take place in Columbus, Ohio at Nationwide Arena.
WSU finished the regular season tied for fourth place in the Pac-12 after posting a 13-7 conference record. The 13 wins were the most for the Cougs under head coach Jen Greeny while overall WSU won 19 matches on the year including 12 over the AVCA top-100.
The Cougs have staked their reputations on defense and serving throughout the year, taking advantage of their both aspects to put their opponents off guard. Defensively, Magda Jehalrova, a three-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, has led the way as the third-year middle finished the regular season third in the country in blocking at 1.45 blocks per set. As a team the Cougs held opponents to sub-.200 hitting 15 times on the year including 11 matches in Pac-12 play. At the service line the Cougs were dominant finishing the regular season with 191 aces, the most for the Cougs since 1992. Penny Tusa led the way with 40 on the year as the super senior finished No. 1 in the Pac-12.
Offensively the Cougs' offense was run by Hannah Pukis as the junior setter finished the regular season with 10.27 assists per set as she looked for her number one option, Pia Timmer, on the outside. Timmer missed the last five matches due to injury but is expected to be back for the Cougs' opening round contest against the UNC. Despite missing the end of the season Timmer still finished among the conference's elite at 3.91 kills per set. Timmer took home a pair of Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week awards on the year as well as AVCA National Player of the Week honors after a historic 31 kill performance in late September.
The Cougs and the Bears have faced off twice in their histories with WSU winning both matchups in 1981 and 2007.
Be sure to check out the links below for all the information regarding the NCAA Championship Tournament, Cougar Volleyball, and tickets for the tournament.