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Cougs bring out the brooms to open postseason play

Dec 2, 2021

WACO, Texas – Gifting their head coach Jen Greeny a special gift to celebrate her birthday, Washington State (20-11) came up with a sweep of Northern Colorado (24-7) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Ferrell Center on the Baylor campus. The win pushed WSU into the second round of the tournament for the first time since 2018 when the Cougs advanced to the sweet 16.
Set scores from the match were: 25-17, 25-15, 25-20 in favor of the Cougs.
From the outset it was all Cougs in Waco as setter Hannah Pukis took over the match early, doing a little bit of everything to kick start the offense. After putting the Bears on their heels early thanks to a pair of dumps, Pukis opened up the offense finding a rhythm with her hitters as WSU doubled-up UNC at 12-6. With the Bears off balance the Cougs' defense went to work behind the block of junior middle Magda Jehlarova as the big middle walled off three-straight attacks to force an early timeout. In all, WSU would come up with five blocks in a matter of minutes as the lead swelled to 18-8. Even when the Bears looked to mount a fight that cut the Cougs lead in half the momentum was short lived for UNC as Pukis again spread the offense, finding Kalyah Williams on back-to-back attacks to shut down the rally. The Cougs would roll to the finish, capping the opening set win with a kill from Argentina Ung, her fourth of the set as WSU hit .344 to the Bears .086.
The block continued to wall off the net early in set two as the Cougs crept out to a 5-4 lead to begin the new frame. A big run by WSU took the two teams into the media with the Cougs ahead 15-9 as Ung again found her openings on the pins to record two more kills to bring her match total to six midway through the second set. Even as the lead grew the Cougs kept their edge, winning a nearly minute long rally that finally ended on a Pukis kill that pushed the Cougs lead to 20-13. Ung and Williams would combine for four kills in the final five points as WSU took a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
Looking to finish off the Bears in quick fashion the Cougs found themselves in a fight in set three as UNC refused to go down quietly. The Bears' offense, which had been silenced in the first two sets, began to find cracks in the Cougs' defense while their backline picked off a slew of WSU attacks to build their lead of the night. UNC's advantage would grow to five points at 16-11 before the Cougs redoubled their defensive efforts forcing the Bears in a trio of errors that started the rally for WSU. Again, it was Williams who came up big to help the Cougs claw all the way back into the set as she picked up a kill and a block alongside of Penny Tusa to tie the set at 17-17. Moments later it was Pukis who put the Cougs' ahead for good as the all-conference setter won a joust at the net to solidify the comeback. In all, the Cougs put the Bears away with an 11-2 run capped by the 150th career ace by Tusa that turned the five-point deficit into a four-point lead at 22-18. Fittingly it was a final kill by Pukis that ended the match for the Cougs and sent WSU into the second round of the tournament once again.
Hannah Pukis finished the night with 7 kills, 33 assists, 1 service ace, 8 digs, and 1 block. Setting the Cougs' attack, Pukis led the Cougs' to a .325 hitting percentage, the fifth-best attack of the season for WSU.


  • The Cougs advanced out of the first round of the tournament for the first time since 2018. It was the 8th time in program history the Cougs have won their first round matchup.
    • The sweep was the Cougs 16th of the season and ninth away from Pullman. It was the fifth in NCAA Tournament history for WSU.
  • The win improved the Cougs to 15-14 all-time in the postseason including 5-5 under head coach Jen Greeny.
    • WSU improved to a perfect 3-0 all-time against Northern Colorado (1-0 in postseason play)
  • WSU won its 20th match of the season – the fourth time under coach Greeny and 18th time overall.
  • Kalyah Williams recorded a match-high 11 kills – her 14th double-digit match of the season and a career-high for an NCAA Tournament match.
  • Karly Basham led the Cougs' defensive efforts with a career-best 20 digs – WSU posted 70 digs as a team, the most in a three-set match on the year.
  • As a team the Cougs came up with 9.0 total blocks led by Magda Jehlarova's 5.
    • Jehlarova picked up her 37th solo block on the year, 9th most in single season history.
    • Jehlarova recorded her 164th block of the year, tied for 9th most in single season history.
    • Jehlarova tallied her 420th career block, moving past head coach Jen (Stinson) Greeny for 5th all-time at WSU.
  • Penny Tusa became the first Coug in program history to record 150 aces after posting two in the match.
    • Tusa's 42 aces on the year is tied for 9th all-time in single season history.
    • Tusa recorded her 500th career kill in the match as she has now posted 500 kills, 517 assists, 1124 digs, and 150 aces.
    • Tusa moved into sole possession of 10th place all-time in career digs with 1124.
  • After missing the final five matches of the regular season star outside hitter Pia Timmer returned to action as a serving specialist.