The Washington State Cougars volleyball team breezed through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament with home victories over Northern Arizona and Tennessee, but the road gets much tougher now as the No. 4 seed Cougs have traveled south to face the No. 1 overall seed Stanford Cardinal in the Sweet 16 at Maples Pavilion.
The match with start at 5:30 p.m. PT and will be broadcast on WatchESPN.com or the ESPN App on your favorite streaming device.
The Cougs (23-9 overall, 12-8 Pac-12) and Cardinal (30-1, 20-0) are well acquainted, having played twice this year. The results haven’t exactly been close, though — WSU won just one set out of seven in the two matches.
“They’re a really good team that seems like none of us could test them a whole lot throughout the year,” WSU coach Jen Greeny said. “Just the level of talent they get year in, year out. If it’s not getting the No. 1 recruit, it’s getting a top-five recruit, and not just one of them.”
It’s definitely a long shot for the Cougs against the powerhouse Cardinal, who breezed through their first two matches against Alabama State and Loyola Marymount in straight sets. Here’s to hoping the old sports adage of “it’s really hard to beat a team three times in one season” holds true.
“They are the No. 1 seed for a reason, and as we all know, undefeated in the Pac-12,” Greeny said. “So we will have to play well. Our offense will have to be clicking, and we’ll have to pass well. We’ll also need to serve well on our side and make them predictable.
“I think it helps that we’re familiar with them, and we’re also familiar with Maples Pavilion, so it’s not a place we’ve never gone.”
If WSU can somehow pull it off the upset, it would be perhaps the biggest win in program history and mark the Cougars’ first run to the Elite Eight since 2002.
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Washington State, the No. 16 seed, admits it plays with a chip on its shoulder. The Cougars are talented and boast two of the best outsides in the country in seniors McKenna Woodford and Taylor Mims. The chip will have to be large and everyone on the WSU team will have to sparkle to win this one.
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