FROM PULLMAN - In front of 1,854 fans, the Washington State volleyball team played its sloppiest match of 2013 against Washington, the No. 2 team in the country. The Cougs showed their youth frequently throughout the match, and as a result, they were swept in their biggest match of the season and walked away with an 0-1 record in Pac-12 play.
The first set actually started out promising for the Cougs, as they initially avoided the slow starts that plagued them throughout nonconference play. Washington, however, quickly put any hopes of an upset out of reach thanks to its ridiculous hitting. The Cougs played their best in this set, posting a match-best 13 kills and .281 hitting percentage. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough and the Cougs dropped the set, 25-17.
The second set was an absolute disaster for the Cougs, as passing and hitting (the team's strengths during nonconference play) became its biggest weakness. Washington State's issues on the offensive side of the ball were aided by Washington's defensive effort - the Huskies recorded four blocks in the second set - and Washington captured the second set, 25-17.
Almost all of the problems that appeared in the second set for the Cougs were present in the third and final set as well. Washington State continued to struggle on the offensive end, as sloppy passing continued to plague the Cougs, and it allowed the Huskies to cruise to the sweep. The sad thing is that the Husky offense actually came back down to earth during the final set: the Huskies hit .289 during this set, but they still cruised, 25-17.
In the nonrevenue sport recap, I pointed out three things that I thought the Cougs needed to do to complete the upset. The Cougs did not do well when it came to those three keys.
Let's grade the three things I wanted to see:
Decrease the service errors: Despite the poor effort offensively in the second set, the Cougs did something that I have never seen them do, and that is record zero service errors in a set. Washington State had a total of six service errors in the match, compared to the 16 in their previous match against Nevada. Grade: B+
Keep the offensive balance: Against Nevada, six players recorded five or more kills; tonight only three players recorded five or more. Tonight proved how crucial offensive balance is, and that solid passing plays a huge part in a balanced offense. Grade: D
Continue the efficient hitting: The Cougs looked lost against the Huskies offensively. Washington State only managed a hitting percentage of .131 throughout the match. When you compare that to the .264 hitting percentage from Nevada, it makes tonight's offensive futility look even worse. Grade: F
The Cougs travel to Corvallis to take on the Beavers on Friday. The match will be televised on Pac-12 Networks, and starts at 6 p.m.