Hankoff having ‘killer’ time at Wazzu | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hankoff having ‘killer’ time at Wazzu

Washington State University should finish in the middle of the Pac-10 volleyball pack, but South Tahoe High alumna Adrian Hankoff has been far better than average for the Cougars.

Hankoff, a freshman outside hitter for the Cougars, provided a bright spot for her young team. She led the squad in kills in each of Washington State’s final two home games, a sweep over Arizona State on Nov. 5 and a loss to 19th-ranked Arizona on Nov. 6.

“We have one senior on the team, and it was our last weekend of home games, so I really wanted to play well for her,” Hankoff said.

In the first match, Hankoff dropped 18 kills on the Sun Devils in a 15-13, 15-13, 15-9 WSU sweep, and added a team-high 12 digs. The next day, a much taller Arizona squad swept by the Cougars 15-11, 15-2, 15-11, but Hankoff led her team with 12 kills in a losing effort.

Hankoff played sparingly at the beginning of the season, but has been making the most of her starting role lately. Outside hitter Missy Blackshire started ahead of Hankoff in the early season, but was suspended and has since left the team, which has given Hankoff the opportunity to step into the lineup.

“I think it was I just needed some confidence, and I got it,” Hankoff said. “Definitely, Missy, she is an awesome player. I like Missy, but it’s better that she’s not with us.”

Hankoff is one of five freshmen who start for the Cougars. The team is 12-11 overall after the loss to Arizona, but improving quickly, and could help their own cause to play in the NCAA tournament this winter by winning down the final stretch of the season, and by performing well in the Pacific 10’s postseason tournament. While many of the Cougars players are young, most have played club ball at a high level, and, according to Hankoff, seem to know how to win.

“There’s a lot of inexperience ” she said. “But we all know what it takes to win a game.”

The season has been a learning experience for the freshman from South Lake Tahoe. While she found herself lining up across the net from some of her volleyball role models at the beginning of the season, Hankoff has since become more comfortable with college volleyball.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “I never would have ever thought: I’m starting on a Pac-10 team as a freshman. It’s amazing.”

Since then, the experience has been different. The Pac-10 players are now across the net instead of on TV sports.

“We’re all college students,” Hankoff said. “They’re not as perfect as they seemed when I was younger.”‘

The Cougars leave home in Pullman, Wash., today for a road trip across the Cascade Mountains to take on rival Washington. WSU can make its case for a bid in the NCAA tournament with wins against Washington, California or powerhouse Stanford, but will have to play well in the postseason tournaments to have a chance at an NCAA bid.

“That would be amazing,” Hankoff said. “That would be the best thing ever. We’ll have to wait it out and see.”

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