No. 1 Volleyball Wins Championship Rematch with No. 2 Juniata
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Greencastle, Ind., September 18, 2010 – The top-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team won the DePauw University Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 18, in Greencastle, Ind., preserving their undefeated 2010 record in the process.
The Bears opened the day with a come-from-behind victory in a tight five-set thriller with No. 2 Juniata College in a rematch of the 2009 NCAA Division III championship match. The Red and Green topped Juniata, 3-2 (27-25, 21-25, 20-25, 25-21, 18-16) on Saturday morning, and followed that up by beating No. 13 Carhage College, 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-17) in the tournament’s championship match on Saturday afternoon. It is the second time in as many weeks the Bears have defeated Carthage.
Sophomore libero Kelly Pang and sophomore setter Marilee Fisher were named to the DePauw University Invitational All-Tournament Team. Pang was spectacular defensively, tallying 77 digs over the weekend, an average of 5.50 per set, and she also had four aces. Fisher averaged 11.7 assists per set for a four-match total of 164, also totaling 11 kills, five aces and 33 digs.
The national championship rematch lived up to its billing as an intense bout between the two most storied programs in Division III volleyball. Washington University struggled out of the gate in each of the first three sets before finding its rhythm as the match progressed. The Bears trailed 20-17 late in the first but managed to mount a comeback and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Junior middle hitter Lauren Budde recorded six of her team-high 24 kills in the opening set, and it was that sixth score that tied the frame at 22-22. Following an ace from Fisher the Bears were ahead by one, but Juniata retook the lead and held set point at 25-24, before sophomore Drew Hargrave notched her first kill of the match. Following a Drew Barnhart attacking error, WUSTL senior Marya Kaminski and freshman Emily Tulloch combined for the team’s third block of the opening set to clinch the 27-25 win.
Juniata responded by winning the next two sets, taking significant early leads in both frames that the Bears never fully able to recover from. It was in the fourth set Washington University finally regained the momentum, thanks in large part to taking control of the set in the early going. Washington U. led by as many as seven points, 15-8, in its fourth-set win, where Budde recorded six kills and the Bears hit a match-high .393 as a team.
Washington University followed the same formula to success in the climatic fifth set, but needed to hold off a strong Juniata surge to hang on for the win. The Bears were ahead 12-7 in the fifth when Juniata went on a 5-0 run. Junior libero Libby Morrison, who had unleashed a difficult serve throughout the match, took the WUSTL offense out of system as Juniata climbed all the way back for a 12-12 tie.
Budde scored on a difficult shot from the 10-foot line to end the Juniata run and put her team back in front by one point, and the Bears had a shot at match-point at 14-13 when Barnhart sent a shot wide. Juniata staved off match point on two occasions before Washington University clinched the win with back-to-back kills from freshman Meghan Byrne, sending a shot around the block and to the deep right corner on both occasions.
Budde, 24 kills, and Byrne, 11 kills, led the Washington University offense, with Fisher dishing out 52 assists and Pang recording 32 digs, eclipsing the 30-dig threshold for the second time this season. Washington University now leads the all-time series with Juniata College, 18-13, and the Bears have won three-straight matches in the rivalry for the first time since 2002.
Byrne and Budde both reached double figures in kills to lead the Bears past Carthage in the tournament’s championship match. Byrne hit .379 against the Lady Reds with a team-high 14 kills. Budde tallied 10 kills and Hargrave converted eight of 16 swings for scores with no attack errors.
Pang had 14 digs against Carthage while Budde finished with 13. Fisher recorded 33 assists, nine digs and four kills in the championship sweep.
Washington U. (14-0) returns to action in two weeks when it will compete in the first University Athletic Association (UAA) round robin of the year. The Bears face Brandeis University on Saturday, Oct. 2, on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., at 12:30 p.m. (ET).