WSU earns spot in NCAA volleyball tournament, will face San Diego in opener

By Jim Meehan

The Spokesman-Review

Scenes of unfiltered joy during NCAA Tournament selection shows never get old. Take the NCAA volleyball selection special Sunday televised live on ESPNU.

Jen and Burdette Greeny’s living room instantly transformed into a party with players and coaches shouting and celebrating when Washington State’s name appeared on the TV screen.

The Cougars (23-9, 12-8 Pac-12) rejoiced for a couple of reasons. 1) They weren’t a shoo-in for their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament, snagging a spot as one of the last four selected. 2) They are heading to Honolulu for Friday’s opener against West Coast Conference champion San Diego (24-5, 17-1 WCC).

In that order, coach?

“The coaches’ reaction was for our name showing up, the kids’ probably because it’s in Hawaii,” Jen joked. “That was awesome. It was fun to have it at our house. (Athletic director) Pat Chun lives across the street so he walked over.”

WSU freshman defensive specialist Aria McComber is from Kapolei, about 25 miles from the University of Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center. No. 12-seeded Hawaii entertains Big Sky champion Northern Colorado on Friday with the winners squaring off Saturday.

The Cougars defeated rival Washington on Saturday for their first season sweep of the Huskies since 2001. More important, Greeny believes it probably secured WSU’s spot in the NCAA Tournament.

“We knew that we had to win,” Greeny said. “We knew in the last two weeks we probably needed another win and losing to Arizona wasn’t great for us. So that was a big, big win (over UW).”

WSU, with seven freshmen in its 10-player rotation, had a lot of big wins, leading to a fifth-place finish in the tough Pac-12. The Cougars were projected to finish tied for eighth in the preseason poll.

“If you had said at the beginning of the year we’d be in the NCAA Tournament, I’m not so sure we would have believed you,” Greeny said. “With so many young players and we graduated such a great class, I’m just really happy for this team. They kept competing and what they’ve done is really special.”

Washington (24-8, 15-5) is seeded No. 8 and will host first- and second-round matches. The Huskies open Friday against Winthrop. Six Pac-12 teams qualified, including third-seeded Stanford, the 2018 national champion.