The Washington State University volleyball team is off to a hot start on the season, most recently adding a home tournament victory at this weekend's Nike Cougar Challenge.
Also competing in the tournament was Sam Houston State, San Francisco and Manhattan College.
The Cougs (8-2) opened the tournament on Friday with Manhattan College, sweeping them in three consecutive sets 25-23, 25-23, 25-11.
In the win, WSU was led by senior Meagan Ganzer with 14 kills and a .357 hitting percentage. As a team, the Cougs hit .237 and held Manhattan to a .052 hitting percentage.
Later on Friday, WSU took the court against San Francisco in Bohler gym. After taking the first two sets 25-19 and 25-15, respectively, the Cougs dropped sets three and four 22-25, 16-15. However, they came back to win the fifth and final set 15-11.
Again Ganzer led the Cougs with 23 kills in the match. Junior Rachel Todorovich also added 11 kills and four blocks to the winning effort.
"I loved the (WSU) team that came out and played in sets one and two, and I actually thought that was the best we'd played so far this season," Head Coach Jen Greeny said. "That darn game break gets you sometimes and with an inexperienced team. I'm not quite sure if we just weren't focused. But San Francisco made some good adjustments, and they started really digging. I don't know who that team was in sets three and four, but I'm glad they showed back up in set five."
Greeny and Ganzer both pointed out the multitude of unforced errors the Cougs encountered in the fourth and fifth sets against San Francisco.
"We had 21 hitting errors in the two sets we lost and eight combined in the three we won,” Ganzer said. “Playing at home should be a confidence builder, but the fact that you can embarrass yourself in front of everyone you know. It gets nerve-racking at home sometimes, especially for so many young players."
WSU finished the tournament victory by beating Sam Houston State three sets to one (25-17, 21-25, 25-20, 25-18) on Saturday.
For the third consecutive match, Ganzer led the Cougs with 21 kills, a .301 hitting percentage and six digs. The lone senior's performance also led to her third tournament MVP performance in as many appearances. Sophomore Camryn Irwin and junior Rachel Todorovich also earned all-tournament honors for their play during the weekend.
"To come out of the tournament with three wins was important, and I thought we battled through," Greeny said in a press release. "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 (-12) play; to have someone besides Ganzer and Todorovich step up."
The Cougs will open Pac-12 play at home in Bohler Gym against UCLA Friday at 7 p.m. and USC Saturday at 7 p.m.