In its best season under head coach Jen Greeny, the Washington State volleyball team is headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009. The Cougs will travel to Madison, Wisconsin, to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles in the first round.
WSU finished the regular season in fifth place in the Pac-12 and with a 20-11 record overall. While the conference made for a treacherous schedule the past two months, the Cougs come into the postseason battle tested. Eight teams from the Pac-12 made the tournament, tied for most in the country.
Marquette, on the other hand, is just one of the two Big East teams to make the tournament. The Golden Eagles finished second in conference play, behind a Creighton team that ran roughshod through the Big East, going 18-0. The Golden Eagles have plenty of experience on this stage, however, as they’ve now made the tournament for six straight seasons.
While MU comes into the tournament unranked, they have a quartet of individual standouts who were named to the All-Big East first team. At the top of that group are redshirt sophomores Taylor Louis and Jenna Rosenthal. Louis is the top attacker for the Golden Eagles, as she led the Big East in kills with 4.45 per set. Rosenthal was a dominant force at the net, and recorded 1.41 blocks per set in Big-East play, also leading the conference.
Interestingly enough, the Cougars and Golden Eagles have a played a handful of the same opponents in 2016, with very similar outcomes. Both teams played USC, UC Irvine, Kentucky and Virginia and went 4-0 against them. While the coaches poll has thought more of WSU all season, Marquette isn’t an opponent the Cougs can afford to look past.
If WSU does advance, look for them to play host Wisconsin the next day. The Badgers are the third seed in the tournament, and one of the nations best teams this season. They will take on MEAC champion Howard in the first round. WSU hasn’t made it to the second round of the tournament since 2002, when the Cougs made a run to the Elite Eight.
Washington State and Marquette will start their match Thursday, at 3 p.m. and a live stream will be available on ncaa.com. If the Cougs make it to the second round, they will play Friday at 5 p.m.
The volleyball team also tallied a few honors Monday, as Greeny was named the Pac-12 Coach of the year and Kyra Holt was named to the All-Pac-12 first team. Taylor Mims and Casey Schoelein were also All-Pac-12 honorable mention selections.
The women’s basketball team traveled to Las Vegas last weekend for the South Point Shootout, where they played Nebraska and No. 5 Maryland. The team turned in a pair of promising results against power conference competition.
Against the Cornhuskers, the Cougs had one of their best offensive performances of the season, scoring 53 points in the first half. Midway through the third quarter, WSU led 68-38, before letting Nebraska cut away at the lead. The final score of 79-65 belies how dominant the Cougs’ performance was.
Against top five Maryland, WSU was able to hang around for 35 minutes before a late Terrapin run sealed the 79-69 result. A common theme with this program the last few years has been the inability to close out would-be big wins against ranked competition. This game was another example of that, and one that could have gone the other way. The Cougars shot 7-of-21 from the free throw line. A performance that is in no recipe for an upset.
This weekend WSU hosts San Diego and Boise State for games in Beasley Coliseum. The Cougs and Toreros will play Friday at 7 p.m. and the Broncos will tip off against WSU Sunday at 2 p.m.