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Locally: Washington State, Eastern Washington volleyball players at U.S. Women’s National Team open tryouts

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 22, 2020

Washington State’s Hannah Pukis prepares to serve during an Oct. 19, 2019, match in Pullman. (RYAN NGO)
Washington State’s Hannah Pukis prepares to serve during an Oct. 19, 2019, match in Pullman. (RYAN NGO)

The volleyball seasons of Eastern Washington’s Catelyn Linke and Washington State’s Hannah Pukis and Alexcis Lusby are resuming in midwinter at the U.S. Women’s National Team open tryouts this weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Linke is a junior libero from Pasco, Pukis a redshirt freshman setter from Tacoma and Lusby a true freshman opposite from Sparks, Nevada.

There are 47 liberos, 37 setters and 24 opposites among 214 athletes from 94 colleges across the country bidding for spots on the U.S. Women’s National Team and U.S. Collegiate National Teams. Fifty-six will be selected by the end of March.

In 2019, Linke averaged 4.62 digs per set, tied for third in program history for that category in a single season that ranked third in the Big Sky Conference. Through three seasons, she has 943 digs in 74 matches playing libero and outside hitter positions. She also has 260 kills, 49 service aces, 106 assists and 36 total blocks.

Pukis earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention and was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team after amassing 1,104 assists to finish sixth in the conference in that category. She also was sixth with 9.77 assists per set and had 15 assists-digs double-doubles.

The 6-foot-5 Lusby averaged 1.93 kills per set, hit .229 and had 108 total blocks in 2019.

Washington State’s Jen Greeny is among 15 coaches from around the country serving as evaluators for U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Karch Kiraly and his staff.

College scene

Washington State is represented at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship that began Saturday in the Dominican Republic.

The Cougars’ top 2020 soccer recruit, forward Trinity Rodman from Newport Beach, California, is playing for the United States in Group C. Sophomore midfielder Elaily Hernandez-Repreza, who played more than 900 minutes in 24 matches for WSU’s 2019 College Cup team, is playing for El Salvador in Group E.

Rodman, the daughter of former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman and sister of WSU men’s basketball player DJ Rodman, has been a staple in the U.S. National Team system, most recently playing in the Nike Friendlies against Brazil and France in early December.

Hernandez-Repreza has also played extensive minutes for El Salvador national teams. She has been a captain for the U20 team and played on the U17 team as a 13-year-old.

Group play runs through Thursday with the top three in each group advancing to the knockout stages. The finals are scheduled for March 8, with the finalists qualifying for the U20 Word Cup.

• Idaho’s Grady Leonard, a junior from Coeur d’Alene HS, placed third in the shot put and fourth in the weight throw at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas, last weekend and was named the Big Sky Conference Field Athlete of the Week.

His shot put of 59 feet, 11 1/4 inches is second in the conference behind teammate Zack Short. His weight throw of 63-11.05 was just short of his season’s best.

• More Gonzaga women’s and men’s indoor track program records have fallen or been threatened.

Junior Aimee Piercy set the women’s indoor 3,000-meter program record at the Husky Classic last weekend, clocking 9 minutes, 34.86 seconds to break the mark of 9:35.31. Piercy’s previous PR was 9:42.32, which was third on the all-time list.

Redshirt freshman James Mwaura ran the second-fastest men’s 3,000, 7:57.74, just off the record 7:57.16.

• Eastern Washington sophomore Nyenuchi Okemgbo continued to lower her PR in the 60 hurdles and close in on the program record. Her 8.83-second run at the Bronco Challenge in Nampa, Idaho, was .02 seconds faster than her previous best and second behind the school record of 8.51 set in 1999.

Lexie Hull, a Stanford sophomore from Central Valley, is among five athletes with area ties named to CoSIDA Academic All-District basketball teams by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Hull is on the NCAA Division I women’s District 8 team with a 3.88 GPA. Her major is undeclared.

Mason Peatling, an Eastern Washington senior from Australia, was named to the men’s Division I District 8 team with a 4.0 GPA. He is pursuing a graduate degree in business administration.

Ben College, a Whitworth senior from Portland, is on the Division III men’s District 8 team with a 3.62 GPA. He will graduate in May with a degree in graphic design.

Named to the NAIA District 4 men’s team were Max McCullough, an Eastern Oregon junior from Post Falls with a 3.78 GPA in business administration, and Ryan Ricks, a Northwest University junior from Northwest Christian HS with a 3.97 GPA in management.

All-district teams recognize student-athletes for academic and athletic success. Only five are named to each team and they are eligible for CoSIDA Academic All-America teams, which will be announced in mid-March.

• Boise State senior Riley Lupfer from Lewis and Clark, one of the top 3-point shooters in NCAA Division I women’s basketball, hit six 3s for a second straight game on Saturday and scored 20 points as the Broncos beat New Mexico 95-76.

It was the 13th time in her career Lupfer has scored six or more 3s in a game and the third time in four games this season. She is third nationally with 94 this season. Against New Mexico, she hit 6 of 10.

• Whitworth senior forward Sam Lees was the Northwest Conference men’s basketball player of the week after he led the Pirates to two wins last weekend, averaging 20.5 points on 68% shooting from the field. He added 11 rebounds and three assists.

• The Cascade Collegiate Conference baseball player of the week was Lewis-Clark State junior AJ Davis from Clarkston.

He had multiple hits in each of three games as the Warriors swept Concordia of Portland, including a 4-for-5 performance and the game-winning RBI in the second game. The L-C State batting average (.364) and hits (12) leader hit .571 with a .643 slugging percentage during the week.

• Six runners with area ties, who are at least sophomores, were named to 2019 Frontier Conference Academic All-Conference cross country teams with GPAs of 3.0 or better.

Men: Carroll College: John Cooney, senior, Gonzaga Prep; Spencer Swaim, sophomore, Lewis and Clark. Lewis-Clark State: Layton Ahlers, junior, Lewiston; Connor Turpin, so., Lewiston.

Women: L-C State: Rylee Brown, so., Coeur d’Alene HS; Jamey Weishaar, sr., Timberlake of Spirit Lake.

• Whitworth, which returns All-Northwest Conference second-team selections Trinity Frank (Gonzaga Prep) and Kalista Fourre from its inaugural lacrosse season, has been selected by the league coaches to finish last in their 2020 preseason poll.

Defending champion George Fox, which hasn’t lost a conference game since lacrosse became a recognized sport in the NWC in 2015, was a heavy choice to defend its title.

Hall of fame

Dave Nielsen, the longtime former Idaho State head track and field coach and currently an Eastern Washington assistant, was inducted into the ISU Hall of Fame on Saturday in Pocatello.

He retired in March 2017 after 31 years at Idaho State before joining the EWU staff. He is in his third season as the Eagles’ jumps and multievents coach.

Nielsen’s ISU men’s teams won four Big Sky Conference indoor championships and his women’s team won one outdoor title. He was named the Nike Coach of the Year for Track and Field in 2000, was the Big Sky Coach of the Year five times and in 2014 was inducted to the National Pole Vault Hall of Fame.

Shooting

Consistency paid dividends to Taylor Christian of the Spokane Junior Rifle Club as she won the 2020 Washington State Air Rifle Championship.

The Spokane Valley Tech senior didn’t have the highest score in either of two matches, but her combined score of 969 out of a possible 1,000 earned her the gold medal. She shot 385 out of a possible 400 in the standing position match and 584 out of 600 in the 3-position (prone, kneeling and standing) second match.

SJRC had three others in the top seven: Zachary Pearsall, Mt. Spokane, fifth (957); Anna Pearsall, Mt. Spokane, sixth (953); and Ben Tafoya, Gonzaga Prep, seventh (953).

Soccer

Jon Harvey, a Washington State assistant for six years and the Cougars recruiting coordinator and goalkeeper coach, has been promoted to associate head coach of the women’s program.

Head coach Todd Shulenberger said Harvey has been instrumental in the Cougars’ rise to elite status nationally. They advanced to at least the second round of the NCAA Tournament the last three years and their record-breaking 2019 season was capped by playing in the College Cup semifinals. They finished the season ranked fourth in NCAA Division I.

Harvey has recruited some of the top-rated classes in program history and the goalkeepers he has developed include Gurveen Clair, the Cougars’ leader in shutouts, and recently graduated Ella Dederick, the all-time wins leader.

Volleyball

CPA Xtreme 16 Elite of Spokane placed second in the 16 Open division, the highest division in Junior USA Volleyball, at the Las Vegas Classic last weekend to qualify for the 2020 USA Volleyball Junior Nationals that will be held June 25-July 4 in Dallas.

Former Eastern Washington coach Wade Benson coaches the team comprised of area high school players.

The players: Mamiko Patterson and Kalea Coleman, both Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls); Jacyn Bamis, Bailey Benson, Sarah Burley and Kate Palelek, all Gonzaga Prep; Ashley Boswell and Abbie Amend, both Freeman; Abbie Scott, Cheney; Chloe Flerchinger, Shadle Park; Brielle Nagel and Kassie Gardiner, both Post Falls; Ashlynn Archer, St. John-Endicott. Assistant coach: Kirsten Flerchinger.

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