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WSU volleyball opens up Cougar Challenge Tournament with a 3-1 win over Idaho

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The Cougars opened up the Cougar Challenge Tournament with a 3-1 (25-19, 31-29, 24-26, and 25-22) over rival Idaho. Washington State struggled in the second and third sets, but still won its first home match of the season.

Senior outside hitter Jaicee Harris's 14 kills played a key part in the Cougar victory
Senior outside hitter Jaicee Harris's 14 kills played a key part in the Cougar victory
WSU Athletic Communication

From Pullman- Washington State's volleyball (8-2) team won its first match of the Cougar Challenge Tournament 3-1 (25-19, 31-29, 24-26, and 25-22) against rival Idaho (4-7). The Cougars won thanks to some timely hitting from its bench and Idaho mistakes, to pick up WSU's first match in Bohler Gym this season.

The fourth set went back and forth for the Cougars, as Idaho started the set by opening up a quick 6-3 lead. WSU helped the Vandals build the three-point lead with some mental lapses and execution problems -- an attack error and net violation accounted for two of those three points. But Washington State was able to overcome a those early mistakes and tie the set at eight points on a kill by senior middle blocker Chelsey Bettinson.

WSU and Idaho went back and forth for the majority of the fourth set, but several mental errors by Idaho down the stretch gave the Cougars match point, 24-22. The Cougars took advantage of match point with a kill by senior outside hitter Jaicee Harris -- her 14th of the night -- to give Washington State the win.

The match never should have made it to a fourth set, as WSU originally dominated the third. Washington State had built a 20-14 lead off of a 7-0 run in the third set. But the Vandals followed up WSU's run with an 11-4 run of its own to prevent the WSU sweep. Idaho's passing was at its best during that run -- the Vandals hit .286 in the third set -- and it showed as the Vandals offense appeared unstoppable.

"I think they were passing very well," said Cougar head coach Jen Greeny. "Therefore they were able to get their middles going, and they...you know...they have some great middles that they run, and when they are passing very well they can go to those middles. We were trying to get them out of system a little bit."

While the third set was disappointing, the second set was absolutely insane. The Cougars had six set points, Idaho had one, to close out the second set. Senior middle blocker Ver'Leea Hardaway had three kills during the last 10 points, but it was Harris that came up with the set winning kill, 31-29.

The first set was a back and forth affair until WSU went on a 8-3 run to give the Cougars a 20-16 lead. Washington State came won the first set by six points, 25-19.

Cougar Challenge Tournament update

No. 23 Loyola Marymount swept Portland State in three straight sets (25-17, 25-16, and 25-20) in the first match of the tournament. WSU faces the Lions at 7 p.m. on Friday in Bohler Gym, and the Vikings at 11 a.m.