No. 25 WSU Volleyball Claims 3-1 NCAA First Round Win over Marquette
MADISON, Wisc. — Season-high kills by Kyra Holt and career-high kills by Hailey Bethune propelled the No. 25 Washington State University volleyball team to a 25-21, 22-25, 25-19, 25-20 win over Marquette in the NCAA First Round at the Wisconsin Field House in Madison Thursday evening.
The win moved WSU to a 22-11 record, tied for fifth-best all-time in WSU history with the 1988 team, and the most wins in a season since the 2002 season’s 24 wins. The Cougars will play No. 3 Wisconsin (26-4), 25-11, 25-28, 25-10 winners over Howard University Thursday night, in the NCAA Second Round Friday, Dec. 2, at 4 p.m. PT, in a match to be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.
Holt, a senior from Hercules, Calif., led the match with 22 kills, hit .370, had three aces and eight digs. Bethune, a senior from Stockton, Calif., had 15 kills, hitting .538 and had two blocks. McKenna Woodford added 11 kills, hitting .286. Taylor Mims and Casey Schoenlein each contributed seven kills and each had the match-high six blocks. Freshman libero Alexis Dirige had 19 digs. Setters Haley MacDonald and Nicole Rigoni combined for 58 assists.
Marquette was led by Taylor Louis with 18 kills and 11 digs while Allie Barber contributed 12 kills (.321) and Jenna Rosenthal added 11 kills (.350). Libero Lauren Houg had 23 digs and setter Sara Blasier had 40 assists. Blasier and Meghan Niemann led the Golden Eagles with three blocks each.
WSU hit .577 in the opening set and ended with a team hitting percentage of .331, the highest in the past 17 matches, while holding Marquette to a .241 hitting percentage. WSU out-hit Marquette 66 to 54, tied in the digs category with 52 each, and out-blocked the Golden Eagles eight to four.
Quotes from the post-match press conference:
“I’m very proud of this Washington State team for advancing against a very, very tough opponent in Marquette,” sixth-year WSU Head Coach Jen Greeny said. I’m extremely proud and happy to be onto the next round.”
On what this win means to her: “It’s huge. I’m very invested in the program; that’s why I came back, to right the ship and get it to this level. It’s not really for me that I’m excited, I’m excited for the players and that they get to experience this.”
On how they prepared for tournament play: “I think we were just trying to emphasis how good Marquette was. It’s hard when you’re going to play somebody that you don’t know very well, so we were just talking about how good Marquette was and I thought they showed that tonight as well. They’re fantastic at running a slide, we really had a hard time with stopping that tonight.”
On how to not let lack of playoff experience be too big of a factor: “Playing in the Pac-12, every single night in our conference is like a tournament-type game in the quality of opponents that we play night-in and night-out. So we didn’t really discuss too much about being in the tournament for the first time in a while, we just tried to focus in on how to stop them and treat it like a non-conference, regular season game, and not make too much of a big deal out of it.”
When asked about Marquette being a good blocking team, Bethune said, “We’re from the Pac-12 Conference, we see a ton of huge blocks every game of conference and even in our own practices. We’re pretty confident in blocking teams so it was nothing new to us, just keep the game on our side and do what we have to do.”
On setting a career high Bethune said, “Before going into the game, my only thoughts were that I had nothing to lose. In the tournament, you never know when it’s going to be your last match, your last game, your last point. So my attitude coming in was that nothing was going to take away from how I was going to play today. I’ve been working on getting that mentality over the last couple games and I hope to continue it tomorrow.”
“Our coaches did a great job with the scouting reports so we knew what areas on the court were open so I could just play my game,” Holt said.
On what this win means to her Holt said, “It means a lot. I came here to make a change and us coming to the tournament is starting to make that change. It means a lot to do it for the coaching staff and my teammates.”