Sept. 10, 2011
PULLMAN - The Washington State volleyball team, 8-2, won the Nike Cougar Challenge tournament title with a 3-1 win over Sam Houston State (6-5) Saturday night at Bohler Gym. The set scores for the Cougars were 25-17, 21-25, 25-20, and 25-18. This is the second tournament title for WSU this year under first-year Cougar Head Coach Jen Greeny.
WSU senior Meagan Ganzer was named the tournament MVP, her third consecutive MVP honors in three weeks. Saturday night she led the match with 21 kills, hitting .302 and contributed six digs, two blocks and one ace. Two more Cougs earned all-tournament honors: Camryn Irwin who tallied 45 assists, and Rachel Todorovich who had nine kille (.300) and two blocks. Freshman Jaicee Harris had a career-high 12 kills and hit .360 and combined with Shawna Lum for 28 digs. Sophomore Marcelina Glab led the match with five blocks.
The SHSU Bearkats were led by all-tournament selection Kaylee Hawkins' 13 kills while Kym Loving had 30 assists and Tayler Gray added 10 digs. Haley Neisler, Kim Black and all-tournament selection Kelli Stewart each had four blocks.
"To come out of the tournament with three wins was important and I thought we battled through," Greeny said. "I was very impressed with Jaicee Harris in the last match. I thought she played fabulous and that is something we are going to have to have going into Pac-10 play; to have someone besides Ganzer and Todorovich step up."
Washington State opened the match with a strong first set, taking the lead and only allowing the Bearkats to tie four times in the early going. WSU hit .393 in the first set and took the 25-17 win.
SHSU battled well in the second set, placing attacks in strategic places on the court, taking a 17-13 lead and extending the advantage to 21-16. The Cougars closed to within three, but down 23-20 could only manage one more point and gave up the set point on a missed serve.
The visitors came back strong after the break. In the third set Sam Houston State stayed close to the Cougar lead at 16-13 mid-way through the set. WSU kept the advantage and took the 25-20 win.
The fourth set had 12 ties and three lead changes. WSU took a 16-15 lead on a setter error and went on to score nine of the next 12 points for the 25-18 win.
The Nike Cougar Challenge all-tournament team consisted of Vendula Strakova (USF), Camryn Irwin (WSU), Jocelyn Levig (USF), Rachel Todorovich (WSU), Kelli Stewart (SHSU), Kaylee Hawkins (SHSU) and the tournament MVP was WSU's Meagan Ganzer.
In the Saturday morning match San Francisco (5-4) defeated Manhattan College (3-5) by scores of 25-16, 25-17, 25-23.
Washington State begins Pac-12 play next weekend at home, hosting No. 8 UCLA (7-1) Friday, Sept. 16, and No. 9 USC (5-3) Saturday, Sept. 17.