What a night Friday night was for the Washington State volleyball team. The Cougs came back after being down 2-1 to win the fourth and fifth sets to beat the No. 12 Oregon Ducks (22-25, 28-26, 13-25, 25-18, 15-9). That’s right, it was Duck hunting season on the Palouse once more this fall.
With this win, the Cougs continue their home conference opener win streak to five. This is also the first top 25 team that the Cougs have beaten this season. The Cougs have also won three straight over the Ducks.
“I think it’s a huge win. We’ve been really working towards one of those top-25 teams to help carry our RPI throughout the season,” coach Jen Greeny said after the match. “To get a win against a really good Oregon team is special for this team and I think can really propel into the rest of the conference season.”
Set 1: Oregon 25, WSU 22
To open things up the Cougs battled back and forth to keep the Ducks on their toes. It was Pia Timmer and Magda Jehlarova who started off the match for the Cougs. The Cougs battled back and forth for every point. The Cougs were down 17-16 until Jehlarova had a dominant kill and tied the set 17-17. The two plays right after, the Ducks had two kills to lead 19-17. It would be two back-to-back errors from the Ducks that allowed the Cougs to be down by one. This set was a close one, but there was one blocking error from the Cougs and another block by Oregon that would have been recovered by the Cougs.
Greeny called a timeout while the Cougs were down 23-20, Jansen came out of the timeout with a kill but the Ducks answered back with a kill to make it set point Ducks. The Cougs attempted to stop the set point, and they did with a block.
It would be 24-22 when the Ducks called a timeout, this would prove to be a smart timeout for the Ducks since this resulted in an Oregon kill to end the first set 25-22.
Set 2: WSU 28, Oregon 26
Down by one set early in this contest, the Cougs battled hard in the second set. It would be Katy Ryan to start the set off with a kill for the Cougs. There would be a service error by Julia Norville, but Argentina Ung won that point back with a kill. It was an early 2-2 tied match, but it would once again go back and forth between the Cougs and the Ducks with kills and errors.
The Cougs found themselves down 18-22 late in the second. This would be where the Cougs took a dynamic turn. WSU took charge offensively. With kills all in a row by Timmer, and Jansen and two back-to-back kills by Jehlarova the match was tied 24-24.
Having to win by two, the Ducks called a time-out. The play proceeding with the timeout was successful for the Ducks after a block by two Ducks Colby Neal and Mimi Colyer. The Cougs were now down 25-24, and Jansen had a kill to tie up the set at 25 once again. The Cougs and Ducks would battle until two attacking errors by the Ducks. The Cougs won the second set 28-26.
Set 3: Oregon 25, WSU 13
Timmer started out the third set with a kill for the Cougs. This would be the third consecutive Cougar kill to start the set. This set wasn’t the best for the Cougs, the Ducks took an early 9-4 lead. The Ducks would continue to have a heavy offensive and defensive stance on the court. It was mostly errors in this set by both sides that drove the set. The Ducks took control of the set and capitalized on the WSU errors. Ultimately it would be a couple of kills from Oregon’s side of the net that sealed the set. The Ducks won 25-13, this would be the lowest score that the Ducks kept the Cougs to all night.
“The team talked a lot about going into the fourth and fifth about (last week’s four-set loss) Stanford,” Greeny said. “We learned from that. We learned that we got a little tight in the fourth against Stanford and so their mindset in the fourth and fifth was just totally different that it was at Stanford. They were loose, they were focused and confident so I think we can just carry that forward.”
Set 4: WSU 25, Oregon 18
Down 2-1, the Cougs had to win this set to keep the match alive. It would be Jehlarova to start the scoring for the Cougs with a solo block. The fire of the WSU women lit and this set was so incredibly dominant. The Cougs scored four straight including a service ace from Norville. Followed by two errors from the Ducks, the score was 0-4 in favor of the Cougs.
The Ducks scored their first point of the set with a kill by Oregon opposite Gloria Mutiri. This followed a back-and-forth of kills between the Ducks and the Cougs. The success of the Duck offense did last long. Oregon would soon be plagued by three errors in a row before getting a kill to snap the error streak they had going for themselves. The Ducks couldn’t seem to be able to get their offense in rhythm and the momentum was with the Cougs.
The Cougs would go on to have four aces in a row two by Jehlarova and two by Timmer. The Cougs up by eight at this point (15-7) continued to force attacking errors from the Ducks.
Late in the fourth set, the Cougs started the beginning of the end. Starting off the last points of the set, Katy Ryan had a significant kill for the Cougs. The Cougs led by as many as seven during this set, but it would be the three Oregon points scored at WSU’s set point that would prove to not be enough.
Timmer had a kill to end the set which would foreshadow the fifth set. The Cougs won 25-18.
“The first couple of sets, I think it was hard to find a rhythm. We talked about how they play such great defense and to expect that ball coming back. We were able to settle into our passing and move our hitters around to keep everyone just a little more off balance as the match went along. (Oregon) will always be such a great defensive team and I really like how our team responded tonight,” Greeny said.
Set 5: WSU 15, Oregon 9
The magic number is 15 in the fifth set. The Cougs came back from a 2-1 set deficit to force a fifth set.
This was the only set that the Ducks scored the first point in, but it wouldn’t last long with a kill from Ryan and a block by Ung and Jehlarova. This set started pretty even with the Cougs keep up with the Ducks and tying the match several times. The Cougs started to pull away a little when Logann Golden served an ace to put the Cougs up by two (6-4). Directly after her ace, Golden had a service error that would turn the ball back to the Ducks.
In the last five points for the Cougs, Timmer had a kill that gave the Cougs their eleventh point of the set.
With the Cougs up 13-9, it would be a sequence of a kill by Jansen, an attacking error on the Ducks, and finally the best service of the match, a service ace by Timmer. The Cougs won 15-9 and won the match 3-2.
The Cougs celebrated their way on the court after upsetting the Ducks who were ranked number 12 in the country.
Timmer led the Cougs with 21 kills while Jansen recorded eleven and Jehlarova recorded ten. Jehlarova had the highest hitting percentage of the match coming in at .421. As a team, the Cougs had 53 kills and a .170 hitting percentage as a team. Jehlarova finished the night with 17 digs and right behind her was libero Karly Basham with 16.
“I think we learned that we can take a punch and fight back,” Greeny said. “The team talked a lot about going into the fourth and fifth about (last week’s four-set loss) Stanford. We learned from that. We learned that we got a little tight in the fourth against Stanford and so their mindset in the fourth and fifth was just totally different that it was at Stanford. They were loose, they were focused and confident so I think we can just carry that forward.”
The Cougs continue their Oregon weekend today against Oregon State. The Cougs also look to continue their winning against unranked opponents. The first serve is set for 12 p.m.