After dropping the Seattle U Tournament 0-3 last weekend, the Idaho volleyball team looks to improve at the Cougar Challenge hosted by Washington State Friday and Saturday.
Idaho plays George Washington and Maryland Eastern Shore Friday, but the most anticipated game comes Saturday against Washington State.
The Cougars won the last three matchups and have the upper hand in the rivalry with 42 wins in 63 meetings. Idaho’s last win against Washington State was a five-set win four years ago.
Saturday’s matchup against Washington State may be the most noteworthy match but it’s the last concern on Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan’s list.
“We can’t look at Washington State yet, we have to win and get these two matches before (Saturday’s matchup),” Buchanan said. “We really need to focus on ourselves, but the first thing will be just George Washington. We’ll have a game plan for George Washington and then it’s going to be Maryland Eastern Shore, and then it’ll be Washington State.”
Buchanan said the team will scout the Cougars beforehand.
The Vandals look to return from the tournament above .50 before hosting the Idaho Volleyball Classic Sept. 15-16.
Sophomore setter Haylee Mathis said the team is already improving.
“In the back row, (Terra) Varney trusts me a lot more to be picking up balls defensively,” Mathis said. “The hitters have been doing a fantastic job, trusting that the balls are going to be there whenever I set. I just feel like everything is meshing together with the team and I’m really excited about it.”
Buchanan said last week didn’t go well as she would’ve hoped.
“We really played tough against Washington, the girls went out and did some great things and competed,” Buchanan said. “I just didn’t think we had enough to turn it around and play another match against Seattle U unfortunately. We weren’t as crisped as we wanted to be. I still don’t think (the match against Villanova) we were ourselves, so we have to learn from that.”
Buchanan said the team has to be tougher and the servers need to reduce errors.
She said the defense has played well and will need to make adjustments throughout the match to accommodate different playing styles.
Idaho starts the tournament 9 a.m. Friday against George Washington and finishes the day at 5 p.m. against Maryland Eastern Shore at Bohler Gym in Pullman. The Vandals take on the Cougars 1 p.m. Saturday.
Luis Torres can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheLTFiles