Albers and Budde Lead Bears Past No. 13 Colorado College, 3-1
University Heights, Ohio, November 19, 2009 – The No. 4 Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team saw both of its middle hitters, senior Erin Albers and sophomore Lauren Budde, record 12 kills as it advanced to the 2009 NCAA Division III semifinals with a 3-1 win over No. 13 Colorado College on Thursday, Nov. 19, at the DeCarlo Varsity Center in University Heights, Ohio.
With the win Washington University improves its all-time NCAA Tournament record to 83-14, and the Bears advance to the NCAA semifinals for the 16th time in school history and the first since 2007, when WU won its NCAA-record ninth national championship.
It is just the second time in school history the Bears have faced Colorado College (35-5), with the last meeting coming during the 2002 season. WU now leads the all-time series, 2-0, and improves to 9-3 in 2009 when facing an opponent ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-25 Pol.
"Certainly when we progress to this stage of the tournament, there are elite teams, all eight teams, so you have to bring your ‘A’ game all the time"” said Washington University head coach Rich Luenemann, who improved to 41-8 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches. "I think that we played really well in the first and fourth sets, then we let our concentration wane a little bit. Rick Swan is a great coach and Colorado College was a very motivated and quality team. Their right side gave us a lot of problems and we had to adjust our block several times."
Washington University (32-4) will face either No. 6 Hope College or Tufts University in the NCAA Division III semifinals on Friday, Nov. 20, in the DeCarlo Varsity Center at 4:30 p.m. The Bears faced Hope on Sept. 5, at the Bears Classic Tournament in St. Louis, Mo., where Hope picked up a 3-1 win. Washington U. leads the all-time series with Hope, 5-1, and has never faced Tufts University.
Sophomore outside hitter Kristen Thomas led Washington U. with five kills as the Bears picked up a nine-point win in the opening set against Colorado College. An Albers kill began a decisive 8-0 scoring run in that set to break open a 9-9 tie. Another kill from Albers provided her team with a 12-9 lead, tying the largest margin up to that point, and the Red and Green were ahead by eight following kills from Thomas on consecutive plays.
The Bears hit just .057 in the second set as Colorado College fought back to even the match at 1-1. The Tigers led by as many as six points, 14-8, early in the second, but the Bears managed to come all the way back and tie the set at 18-18 as the outcome came down to the wire.
Washington U. took its first lead of the second on an attack error from Laura Goldsmith, and was ahead 22-21 following an Albers kill. Two-straight points for Colorado College shifted the advantage back to the Tigers, who clinched the frame on a kill by Sarah Schmoker.
Just like in the second, Washington U. dug a large hole to begin the third frame, trailing 7-1 just a few moments into the set. Albers spiked down an overpass to get WU back on track, and the Bears narrowed the gap to just two points thanks to a pair of kills from freshman Drew Hargrave.
A 5-1 Colorado College run put the Tigers back up by four points, 16-12, and that is when the Bears finally made their move, steadily cutting into the deficit until they finally regained the lead at 19-18. Albers recorded a cross-court kill to begin the run and freshman setter Marilee Fisher teamed with Budde to block down an Emily Perkins attack to pull the Red and Green within one point.
WU pulled back in front when Schmoker sent an attack into the net, and Budde and Hargrave combined for a block on the next play to give the Bears a two-point cushion. Washington University recorded five team blocks in the third set alone and went on to take the frame by four points.
" I think there was a moment where we all realized that we needed to regain our focus and we needed to get back to playing our game," Albers said. "It was a reminder that we need to work hard to get this win."
With the momentum back in their favor the Bears turned in their best offensive performance of the match, recording 16 kills while hitting .484 as a team to take the final set by 11 points.
Fisher finished the contest just two kills shy of a triple-double, with 42 assists, 11 digs and eight kills. Freshman libero Kelly Pang, who was named the AVCA National Freshman of the Year on Wednesday, led WU with 20 digs, an average of five per set, and Budde chipped in 15 digs and a team-high four total blocks in addition to her 12 kills.
As a team Washington U. hit .242, holding Colorado College to just a .144 team attack percentage.