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The Roundup: No. 17 WSU volleyball hosts matchup of ranked teams

After a terrific start to Pac-12 play, the Cougs will next face No. 9 Stanford.

Kyra Holt was huge in the road upset of No. 4 Washington.
WSU Athletic Communications

In case you haven’t heard, the WSU volleyball team is off to an amazing start, winning 12 of its first 14 games including a pair of huge road wins to open conference play. This week the team will be at home to face Stanford in one of the most anticipated volleyball matches in years.

First, WSU took down no. 4 UW in four sets — the first win for the Cougs in Seattle since 2001. Then, over the weekend, they went to UCLA and knocked off the ninth-ranked Bruins in five sets.

The wins propelled the Cougs from “others receiving votes” to 17th in this weeks AVCA coaches poll. It is the first time since 2009 that the team has been ranked and first appearance that a Jen Greeny-coached team has made in the top 25. The ranking will get tested quickly, as new no. 9 Stanford and California travel to Pullman this weekend.

The Cardinal come in with a five-match winning streak, but faced two of the Pac-12’s weaker team’s in their first weekend of conference play. Stanford did make it through a treacherous non-conference slate that included four ranked teams with a 6-2 record. Stanford’s balanced attack is led by 2014 Volleyball Magazine player of the year Inky Ajanaku.

Ajanaku, who missed last season with an injury sustained while playing with the U.S. National Team, leads Stanford in kills with 108. More impressive though, is the middle blockers’ .427 hitting percentage, a mark that is seventh best in the country. The Cougs, however, have proven to be strong at the net this season.

Claire Martin and Taylor Mims lead the Cougs in blocks, averaging 1.59 and 1.46 blocks per set. Both of those numbers are good enough to be in the top five in the Pac-12. If the Cougs are to continue their winning ways, it will be important for Mims and Martin to make their presence known on the court.

Friday’s match against Stanford will get underway at Bohler Gym at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network. Sunday, WSU will play Cal at 11 a.m. in a game that will be live streamed by WSUCougars.com. This team looks like it may be something special this season, so you won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to see them in person, especially if you’re coming into town on Friday for the football game.

The soccer team, on the other hand, did not get off to a great start in conference play. The Cougs lost in heartbreaking fashion to Colorado at home in their Pac-12 opener, 1-0. The game’s lone goal came in the 89th minute from the Buffalo’s Sarah Kinzer.

The loss marks the continued struggles that the Cougs have had with Pac-12 opponents at the Lower Soccer Field. In 2015 WSU finished third in the conference with a 7-4 record, but only won once at home against a Pac-12 team. Going undefeated on the road was impressive, but it would be foolish to count on that happening again. If WSU is going to continue to be a women’s soccer school, coach Todd Shulenburger will need to deliver fans some big victories in Pullman this year.

This week the Cougs will travel to the Bay Area to play Stanford and Cal. They’ll play at Stanford at 7 p.m. on Thursday and in Berkeley at 11 a.m. on Sunday. You can catch both those games on Pac-12 Network.

The men’s golf team wrapped up play in Mark Simpson Colorado Invitational Tuesday, and finished in 8th place. The Cougs shot plus-8 over three rounds of play. Junior Derek Bayley posted WSU’s lowest score, finishing five over par. No one else from the team was able to post a top-25 score.