The return of game week means many good things, and one of those is the return of the Roundup: My weekly recap of Washington State’s non-revenue athletic programs.
The biggest non-football fall noise makers, women’s soccer and volleyball, are both off to hot starts with wins over ranked teams. While that kind of statement victory has come to be expected from the soccer team, it was more surprising to see from a volleyball team that has had some lean seasons recently.
The soccer team, which is coming off yet another NCAA tournament appearance (and subsequent first round exit), defeated 13th ranked Santa Clara 1-0 Aug. 25th. That win, however, is sandwiched by a pair of losses to no. 13 BYU and Gonzaga, putting the Cougs at 1-2 on the year. Even though their record isn’t great so far, the competitive play against ranked foes (the Cougs led BYU most of the way before losing in the second overtime period) indicates that the soccer team likely hasn’t fallen off.
Returning for WSU from the team that finished third in the Pac-12 and hosted an NCAA tournament game is the top offensive threat and their All-Pac-12 freshman team goalie. Senior Kaitlyn Johnson led WSU in both goals and assists last season and recorded her first score against BYU. Goalkeeper Ella Dederick boasted a 0.92 goals-against average and recorded four shutouts in her redshirt freshman season. With some veteran defenders returning, the Cougar keeper figures to improve in 2016.
After a treacherous start, the Cougs non-conference schedule appears to ease up significantly before Pac-12 play begins. None of their remaining opponents are ranked, and only TCU is receiving votes in the NSCAA coaches poll. With a winning streak the soccer team will likely find itself back in the poll, where they spent much of last season, but are yet to make an appearance in 2016.
WSU will host North Dakota St. and Montana this weekend. The Griz will get their shot Friday and the Bison will play the Cougs on Sunday. Both games will kickoff at 7 p.m. at the Lower Soccer field and will be broadcast on the WSU live stream.
In the gym, the volleyball team also has had a hot start, winning the Purdue Mortar Board Premier Tournament. The Cougs came out of the tourney 2-1 with wins over No. 24 Kentucky and Wyoming and a close loss to the host Boilermakers, ranked No. 20. As she was for most of last season, Kyra Holt was a force for WSU throughout the opening games.
Holt was named MVP of the tournament and led the Cougs in kills in all three games. The Cougs are coming off a season where they finished 16-16 but just 5-15 in conference play. They did just lose one player off last season’s team, libero Kate Sommer, and looked prepped to fair better in the Pac-12. While unlikely to make a run at the conference championship, this team looks able to contend for a spot in the NCAA tournament.
This weekend the volleyball team travels to Long Beach, Calif., for the Long Beach Mizuno Tournament. The Cougs will play Northeastern, UC Irvine and Long Beach State over the course of Friday and Saturday. Audio for road games will be provided on wsucougars.com.
Also of note on the non-revenue front, WSU’s top returning tennis player, Donika Bashota, has trasnferred from the university. Bashota set the WSU record for singles matches won in a season in 2015-16 with 36, but won’t make a run at any more school records. Instead she will play at TCU in the coming seasons, as reported by gofrogs.com.