WSU (and Ryan) to host Grand Canyon (and Mitchell) in first round of NCAA volleyball tourney
| November 27, 2023 1:00 AM
Two former local high school standouts will line up across the net from each other when Washington State plays host to Grand Canyon University of Phoenix on Friday at 8 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA volleyball tournament at Bohler Gym in Pullman.
Katy Ryan of WSU (24-7) is a junior opposite (right-side) hitter from Lakeland High, and Klaire Mitchell of Grand Canyon (23-7) is a graduate student setter from Lake City High.
WSU, ranked 11th nationally, is the fourth seed in the Pittsburgh Regional.
In the other first-round match Friday at Pullman, fifth-seeded Dayton (31-2) faces Pepperdine (19-8) at 4 p.m.
Friday’s winners meet Saturday at 7 p.m. for a spot in the regionals Dec. 7 and 9 in Pittsburgh.
Washington State is in the NCAAs for the eighth straight year and will host for the seventh time overall, and first since 2018.
The lefty-hitting Ryan has 810 kills in 96 career matches for the Cougars.
Grand Canyon, in its 11th season of volleyball, is in the NCAAs for the first time, led by Mitchell, one of three active players in the nation with at least 4,500 career assists and 1,100 career digs in Division I action. This year, Mitchell’s 10.7 assists per set rank 19th nationally.
"I've watched this every year," Mitchell said of the ESPNU show that mentioned her as the three-time WAC Setter of the Year. "It's funny getting matched up with Washington State. I grew up watching them. I'm friends with their head coach (Jen Greeny). It's really close to home, so I'm going to have a lot of friends and family there. Hopefully, they have enough tickets for the Mitchell family. I'm super excited."
GCU, which qualified for the NCAAs by winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament, will be facing a top-25 opponent for the first time since 2016.