The University of Idaho men’s and women’s basketball teams finalized their nonconference schedules Friday, and the longest continuous rivalry outside of the Ivy League continues this season as both teams will face off against Washington State.
Also, the men’s team will face a huge hurdle as the Vandals will travel to McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane on Dec. 14 to face off against top-ranked Gonzaga.
Idaho opens the season with eight consecutive road games, starting with a multi-team event in Portland, Ore., against Seattle University (Nov. 25), the University of Portland (Nov. 27) and Cal Poly (Nov. 28) before beginning Big Sky play with a two-game series Dec. 3 and 5 at Sacramento State.
The Vandals then will play their final three nonconference games against the Cougars in Pullman (Dec. 9) and visiting Bakersfield (Dec. 12) before coming back to play the Zags. It will be the first time in school history, if it holds, that Idaho will play a No. 1-ranked team in the country. Overall, the Vandals are 12-49 against teams ranked in the top 25, with their previous victory coming against Utah State in 2010-11 season.
On the women’s side, the Vandals will have a mostly regional nonconference schedule with one major exception. Idaho will open at home against Lewis-Clark State on Nov. 25 before visiting Oregon State on Nov. 29. After starting Big Sky play with a two-game series Dec. 3 and 5 at home against Sacramento State, the Vandals hit the road to play at longtime women’s powerhouse Texas (Dec. 9) before playing at Washington State (Dec. 13) and returning home to play Seattle University (Dec. 21).
“I like to schedule hard. I like to see what our team is made of in the nonconference,” women’s coach Jon Newlee said in a statement. “The number of nonconference games we could play made it a little difficult to kind of mix it up.”
Game times for both teams are yet to be determined.
Nov. 25 — Seattle University+; 27 — University of Portland+; 28 — Cal Poly+; Dec. 3 — at Sacramento State*; 5 — at Sacramento State*; 9 — at Washington State; 12 — at Bakersfield; 14 — at Gonzaga; 31 — Northern Arizona*; Jan. 2 — Northern Arizona*; 7 — at Southern Utah*; 9 — at Southern Utah*; 14 — Northern Colorado*; 16 — Northern Colorado*; 28 — Weber State*; 30 — Weber State*; Feb. 4 — Eastern Washington*; 6 — at Eastern Washington*; 11 — at Idaho State*; 13 — at Idaho State*; 18 — at Portland State*; 20 — Portland State*; 25 — Montana State*; 27 — Montana State*; March 4 — at Montana*; 6 — at Montana*.
+ — Multi-team event hosted by University of Portland
* — Big Sky Conference game
Nov. 25 — Lewis-Clark State; 29 — at Oregon State; Dec. 3 — Sacramento State*; 5 — Sacramento State*; 9 — at Texas; 13 — at Washington State; 21 — Seattle University; 31 — at Northern Arizona*; Jan. 2 — at Northern Arizona*; 7 — Southern Utah*; 9 — Southern Utah*; 14 — at Northern Colorado*; 16 — at Northern Colorado*; 28 — at Weber State*; 30 — at Weber State*; Feb. 4 — at Eastern Washington*; Feb. 6 — Eastern Washington*; 11 — Idaho State*; 13 — Idaho State*; 18 — Portland State*; 20 — at Portland State*; 25 — at Montana State*; 27 — at Montana State*; March 3 — Montana*; 5 — Montana State*.
* — Big Sky Conference game
Vandals ink three during early signing period
The University of Idaho volleyball team signed three players to national letters of intent during the early signing period, it was announced.
The Vandals inked Makenna Jackson, a middle blocker from Vancouver, Wash.; Natalie Fernandez, an outside hitter from Los Angeles; and Caitlyn Gay, a defensive specialist-libero from Canby, Ore.
“We are really excited about our 2021 recruiting class,” Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said in a news release. “This is a very completive group of young women who are going to be a great addition to the ‘Vandal Family.’”
Jackson, a senior at Central Catholic High School, led her team to a second-place and a fourth-place finish at the state tournament. She has 145 kills, averaging 1.4 per set in her three-year career.
Fernandez, a senior at University Charter High School, was the City Section Division II player of the year in 2019 and helped lead the program to the D5 Southern Regional championship and the Los Angeles City D-II volleyball title in 2019.
Gay, a senior at Canby High School, helped her team to a third-place finish in the state tournament in 2019.
COUGAR WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
WSU women’s hoops team inks pair of international standouts
Washington State women’s basketball coach Kamie Ethridge brought in two international recruits this week, signing New Zealand guard Leah Mafua and Canadian guard Tara Wallack.
Mafua (5-foot-10) played at Otero (Colo.) Junior College last year, averaging a team-best 18.9 points per game and 4.9 assists. The Wellington, New Zealand, native was a juco All-American, who posted a pair of triple-doubles, with a career-high scoring mark of 38.
Mafua joins countrywomen Krystal and Charlisse Leger-Walker on the Palouse. Mafua and Charlisse — Krystal’s younger sister — played together for the New Zealand junior national team.
“Leah possesses an attack-oriented style, complemented by a high basketball IQ,” Ethridge said. “She has the ability to play multiple positions in our system. ... Her passing, shot-making abilities and overall feel for the game will make a dynamic impact on our program.”
Wallack (6-2), from South Surrey, B.C., helped Team Canada to a silver at the 2019 FIBA Americas tournament in Chile.
She averaged 26 points and 15 rebounds per game at the 2019 British Columbia Provincial Championships for Semiahmoo Secondary, which won two provincial titles with Wallack leading the way. In five games with Team Canada, she averaged 6.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals.
“She has an uncanny ability to read individual matchups and game situations in a way that results in her maximizing her physical strength and skill sets,” Ethridge said. “Tara’s versatile package of skills, her confidence, and her IQ or ‘feel’ for the game combine to make her a potential elite-level Power Five talent.”
WSU volleyball adds pair of players on signing day
Washington State volleyball coach Jen Greeny announced two new additions to her team Thursday in Idahoan opposite hitter Katy Ryan and setter Michelle Zhao, from California.
Ryan, a 6-foot-5 senior at Rathdrum’s Lakeland High School, was the Class 4A Inland Empire League MVP in 2019 and 2020, and was named the player of the year and female athlete of the year by the North Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame.
She guided the Hawks this year to their first volleyball state title. A 4.0 grade-point average student, Ryan is a nominee for the Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year award.
Zhao, a 5-8 senior from Walnut, Calif., has been starting at La Salle High School since her freshman year. She’s a three-time All-Hacienda League honoree and two-time La Salle MVP who as a rookie led her team to a league title and showing in the California Interscholastic Federation state quarterfinal round.
“They are both tremendous athletes that will help keep our program competing at a high level,” said Greeny, whose WSU team finished last year ranked No. 23 nationally. “They are both not only stellar on the court, but also excel academically and will be great teammates.”
COUGAR WOMEN’S SWIMMING
Cougs sign five during earlysigning period
The Washington State women’s swim program announced the signing of five athletes, including a butterfly specialist who has medaled in the Italian Championships.
Ilaria Moro, of Gigliano, Italy, will be joined by Noelle Harvey of Carlsbad, Calif.; Sophie Macy of Chanhassen, Minn.; Noelle Marsh of Magnolia Texas; and Taylor Schababerle of Katy, Texas.
Marsh (freestyle) is a four-time state champion, Macy (backstroke) was a four-time all-state selection, Harvey (freestyle and backstroke) won two events at State as a sophomore, and Schababerle (freestyle) took ninth at State as a junior.