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WSU volleyball returns to host Cougar Challenge Tournament

The first nine matches of the Cougars' season were on the road, and WSU went 7-2 during those matches, including a sweep at the hands of No. 12 Illinois. WSU returns to Pullman to wrap-up its non-conference schedule in the Cougar Challenge Tournament.

WSU Athletic Communication

Washington State volleyball is making its return to Bohler Gym after a 7-2 road trip to start the 2014 season. The Cougars road trip ended with a sweep at the hands of No. 12 Illinois to close out the Blue Raider Bash.

Despite the fact that WSU was swept by Illinois, the Cougars showed they can compete with anyone, even on the road, because all three set losses were by less than five points. Washington State swept the two other teams it faced in the Blue Raider Bash, Belmont and Virginia Tech. The Cougars have benefited from the development of their young core.

Sophomore Kyra Holt continued her domination of all living things on the volleyball court. She has the eighth most kills per set in the Pac-12, at 3.55.  Holt's offensive dominance has benefited from the emergence of sophomore setter Haley MacDonald. MacDonald is third in the conference with 11.58 assist per set, that helps increase the offense's scoring capability. The next time the Cougs take the floor, it will be at home in the Cougar Challenge Tournament.

The Cougars are hosting three squads during the Cougar Challenge Tournament. WSU's three opponents in the tournament are Idaho (4-6), Portland State (2-8), and No. 23 Loyola Marymount (9-0).

Idaho Vandals, 4-6

Date and time: Thursday, September 18th at 7 pm

Season to date: The Vandals started off their season by losing five of their first seven matches, which included a three match losing streak. Idaho snapped its losing streak by beating Pepperdine in four sets. Since ending the streak, Idaho has gone 2-1 - including a four set win over in-state rival Boise State.

The Vandals are entering the Palouse looking to get their third straight win, and a winning streak.

Player to watch: Senior middle blocker Alyssa Schultz is the reigning Big Sky player of the week after her impressive performance against Boise State and Missouri. Schultz is hitting .330 and is averaging 2.08 KPS in 2014.

Portland State Vikings, 2-8

Date and time: Friday, September 19th at 11 am

Season to date: Portland State has struggled early on in 2014, as the Vikings' only two wins were against Georgia Southern - Idaho also beat the Eagles - and Lamar. Of the Vikings ten matches, five of the matches were decided in three matches (PSU has swept one opponent).  The Vikings enter Bohler with a two match losing streak.

Player to watch: Freshmen setter Erin Clark has started every match for the Vikings. Clark is averaging 9.23 assist per set and is the key to Portland State's offensive attack.

No. 23 Loyola Marymount, 9-0

Date and time: Friday, September 19th at 7 pm.

Season to date: The Lions are ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2004. Loyola Marymount swept its first five matches of the 2014 season, and only one of the Lions' matches has gone to five sets this season. LMU has a good chance at being 11-0 heading into their match-up against WSU on Friday night.

Player to watch: Senior setter/libero Ashley Maxfeldt has been an asset for the Lions in '14, as she has played both of her positions effectively. Maxfeldt has a set percentage of .500, and averages 1.74 digs per set.

Loyola Marymount is the last non-conference opponent that the Washington State will face this season.