Kathi Goertzen Coug of the Year Finalist: Kyra Holt

Photo Courtesy WSU Athletic Communication

Rebuilds of programs are always tough but they're made easier when you're able to sign a program changing hitter.

There are a few programs at Washington State that everyone knows has a rather illustrious history. Baseball sits in the top 10 of the all-time wins list for NCAA programs and names like Bailey and Brayton are synonymous with success. Women's rowing has consistently competed with teams at the highest level with almost yearly finishes amongst the top programs in the country despite a 35 minute van ride to get to water that is regularly too choppy to row in.

But mention women's volleyball and few people remember how good Washington State used to have it. NCAA Tournament appearances were the norm not the exception. A run of success started in earnest in the mid-1990's and peaked with an appearance in the Elite Eight in 2002. The Cougs ran into the Florida Gators in Gainesville and lost in four sets.

WSU would go another seven seasons without an appearance and those seasons where long and tough, many of which saw them picking up just a win or two in the Pac-10. So when Kyra Holt decided to come to WSU, she did so knowing full well that Jen Greeny's promise of greater success was so far just that: a promise. She would have to be a large part of a revival of WSU volleyball.

And boy, was she ever in her freshman season.

Holt had her pick of schools to go to after being rated the 44th best player in her high school class by PrepVolleyball.com. But she brought her cannon of an arm to the Palouse and on a young Washington State team, her talent shined. Holt ended the year with 479 kills, nearly double the next closest person on the team. Her 3.89 kills per set was good for eighth best in a conference more full of talent than any in the country.

On a team that reflects its age and growing pains, the Cougars finished 18-15 overall with a 5-15 record in Pac-12 play and lost a few of those matches late, unable to hold onto leads. Still, their record is no small feat considering over a third of their conference games came against ranked teams. As this team continues to mature and grow, Holt represented the hope for WSU's future. Her 479 kills ranked fifth on the WSU list for best total in a season; her 557.5 point total cracks the top 10 for a single season in school history. The accolades for Holt don't stop there. She was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week three times, an honorable mention to the All-Pac-12 team and was a member of the All-Freshman team and the AVCA Pacific North Region Freshman of the Year.

The future is bright for WSU volleyball with a young team and Kyra Holt's cannon. Congrats to the sensational freshman for being named a finalist for the Kathi Goertzen Coug of the Year.

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