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The Roundup: WSU volleyball soars while soccer struggles

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Meanwhile, the 24th-ranked men’s cross country team had strong showings despite a split squad weekend.

Hailey Bethune
Hailey Bethune goes in for the kill against Stanford.
WSU Athletic Communications

The Washington State volleyball team continued its undefeated run in Pac-12 play with a sweep of the Bay Area schools over the weekend. The wins vaulted WSU in the polls, and the Cougars are now ranked 10th in the AVCA coaches poll.

The team got off to a hot start Friday against the ninth ranked Cardinal, taking the first set 25-17. The Cardinal battled back, but it was the Cougs who came out victorious in the 5th set. Sunday, the Cougs had the rare Pac-12 game against a non-ranked opponent and made it look easy. They dismissed Cal in straight sets to improve to 14-2 on the year and 4-0 in conference play.

This weekend WSU will travel to Oregon to take on the Beavers (on Friday) and the Ducks (on Sunday). Oregon State has struggled this season, and only has one conference win under its belt. Oregon on the other hand is off to just as hot a start as WSU. The Ducks have also won their first four conference matches are ranked 20th in the country.

The conference’s top offense and defense will face off hen WSU meets Oregon. No opposing team has found WSU easy to hit against in 2016, as the Cougs are top four nationally in both blocks per set and opponent hitting percentage. On Sunday, however, WSU will face the most efficient group of hitters they’ve seen all year.

The Ducks currently rank 2nd and 3rd nationally in kills per set and hitting percentage. On the attack, Oregon is led by outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide. The sophomore averaged 3.22 kills per set with a hitting percentage of .305. Middle Blocker Ronika Stone is having a terrific season as well, hitting at a .442 percent that is the eighth best in the nation.

WSU and OSU will get under way at 7 p.m. and you can watch on Pac-12 Network. The Cougs and Ducks will play Sunday at 1 p.m. and will be streamed live at http://www.goducks.com/.

The women’s soccer team, on the other hand, has struggled in its opening games of Pac-12 play. The Cougs are currently riding a three-game losing streak and are still looking for their first conference win.

The Cougs faced a pair of tough road tests against Stanford and Cal, and lost two close games. A late rally against No. 1 Stanford wasn’t enough to knock off the undefeated Cardinal as WSU fell 2-1 on Thursday. Then on Sunday, the Cougs failed to break through against the No. 17 Golden Bears, and lost 1-0 after giving up a late penalty kick.

Leading goal scorer, freshman Morgan Weaver, scored the weekend’s only goal for Washington State. The offense has struggled to get much going in the last three games, and has only one goal in conference play. The team returns to Pullman this weekend, where it could use a slump-busting win.

Luckily for WSU, the schedule looks like it gets a little bit easier in the upcoming stretch. The Arizona schools will travel to the Palouse, and they too have struggled against Pac-12 opponents. Neither Arizona nor Arizona St. is ranked, and between the two, they have registered five losses and one tie in conference play.

The Cougs will play the Wildcats on Thursday at 6 p.m. and can be watched on wsucougars.com. The matchup with the Sun Devils will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network and take place Sunday at 11 a.m. Both games will be played at Lower Soccer Field.

It was a busy weekend for the cross country teams as the men were split up to race in two events. One group, including top runners John Whelan and Michael Williams, finished in seventh place at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. Whelan finished eighth overall. The 24th-ranked men also sent runners to the Washington Invitational where they finished fourth. The women finished in sixth place behind Washington, Oregon, Harvard, Colorado State and Idaho.

In the pool, the Cougar swim team faced a difficult first test but had an encouraging performance. WSU raced defending Pac-12 champs and No. 6 ranked USC and lost 161-96 on Sept. 30. Freshman Angela Mavrantza won the 100 breast for the Cougs.