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Washington State Athletics | September 27, 2021

Washington State volleyball upsets No. 6 Washington, despite dropping epic, record-tying set

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PULLMAN, Wash. — In a match that had everything and an instant classic in the record books of the Boeing Apple Cup series, Washington State volleyball (8-4, 2-0) came away with a statement win over No. 6 Washington (7-3, 0-2) in an epic five-setter Sunday afternoon at Bohler Gym.

Set scores from the match were: 25-14, 23-25,  25-16, 44-46, and 15-11 in favor of the Cougars. That 90-point fourth set tied the NCAA record for points in a single set in the 25-point era, matching Santa Clara vs Saint Mary's (CA) from Nov. 21, 2017.

While the day would turn into an epic showdown between cross-state rivals, the match did not start particularly close as the Cougs dominated the opening set to grab the early lead. Scoring three kills in the first four points, Pia Timmer got the Cougs rolling early as WSU ran out to a 9-3 lead and never looked back. WSU set the tone for the day with tough serving that took the Huskies out of system and forced them into bad spots that the Cougs could clamp down on defensively. In all, the Cougs led from first serve to finish dominating the net with six blocks including a a pair by Magda Jehlarova and Katy Ryan in the final three points to close out the opening set win. 

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Making wholesale changes to their lineup to begin the second set, the Huskies evened the match at one set all at the break as an early lead held up despite the Cougs' best efforts late. After falling behind quickly, the Cougs fought back to grab control of the set only to be denied by the Huskies' attack. The set would draw even nine times, the last of which came at 19-19 when Ryan hammered down back-to-back kills putting WSU in position to take control. Despite the play by their freshman on the pin, the Huskies ran off three straight points to recapture the momentum before edging out WSU at the finish to end the set. 

With the match even at 1-1 the Cougs would get back on track out of the break, reestablishing their dominance on the pins early and often. Using their vaunted block to stymie the Huskies' attack once again, Washington State put together a 10-3 run in the opening points of the frame, creating a gap the Huskies would not be able to close. During the run that put the Cougs up 12-6, Kalyah Williams came up big with a pair of blocks including a solo effort that capped off the scoring rally for her team. Williams block came on the heels of a stellar defensive play by Washington State that saw Timmer come up with a sprawling dig to save the point followed by Penny Tusa finishing off the defensive rally for the Cougs with a solo block of her own, her only block of the contest. The Cougs cruised to the third set victory behind five kills from Timmer as WSU outhit the Huskies .381-to-.083 in the frame.

After three relatively normal sets played between the two longtime rivals, the fourth set would be anything but as the Cougs and the Huskies put the entire arena on their feet for what would be the most epic fourth set in NCAA volleyball history.

The two sides traded big runs early as WSU jumped out to a quick 11-6 lead only to see the Huskies respond with an 8-1 run of their own to take a two-point advantage midway through the set. That two-point advantage would be the largest lead either team would hold the rest of the way as the Cougs and the Huskies settled in for one of the longest back-and-forth battles in Division I history. Trailing 24-23 and the set on the line, WSU staved off the first of 11 set-points for UW in dramatic fashion as Timmer hammered down one of her 11 fourth-set kills to stop a 4-0 run by UW. The Timmer kill was the first of four set points for UW before the Cougs turned the tables on the Huskies to take their first crack at winning the match at 28-27. Washington then fought off five match-points to keep the set moving. As the set wore on, the legs on both sides began to tire as mistakes began to mount, particularly from behind the service line. Those service mistakes proved especially costly for the Cougs who saw the final three match-point attempts fall short allowing the Huskies the life needed to finally end the long fight on what would be their 11th set-point chance. In all, the fourth set had 13 lead changes and 30 tie scores with Washington State having 12 chances of its own to end the match, only to come up just short.

The momentum from the previous frame would briefly carry over to the fifth and deciding set as the Huskies scored the opening four points of the finale to put the Cougs on their heels. With Timmer about to rotate into the backrow, setter Hannah Pukis found her big outside for the first time in the set to kick off a tide-turning rally by WSU. Timmer not only got it done at the net but also behind the service line as she came up with back-to-back aces that evened the set at 5-5 before Jehlarova dumped down an overpass on another mistake by the Huskies on Timmer's serve to give the Cougs the lead for good. When all was said and done the Cougs had pushed their lead to 9-6, a three-point advantage that would hold as the Huskies climbed within two at 13-11 only to see their final swings at the comeback sent back where they came thanks to Jehlarova and Timmer who combined for a pair of emphatic blocks to secure the victory.

Pia Timmer tied a Washington State rally-score record with 31 kills on 76 swings while hitting an impressive .303 to lead the Cougs. Not only did she do everything on offense, the junior was the Cougs' top defensive player as well as she came up with a career-bests in digs (21) and blocks (seven) while serving up a career-best in aces (four).


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