September 28, 2013

No. 9 Volleyball Splits Two Five-Set Matches on Day Two of WU Invitational

St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 28, 2013 – The No. 9-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team rallied from being down two sets to earn a 18-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-9 win over Millikin University Saturday morning, before coming up short in a 20-25, 25-14, 19-25, 25-19, 16-18 loss to No. 6 Elmhurst College in the second match of the day at the WU Invitational.

Sophomore Jackie Nelligan recorded 30 kills and 13 blocks in the two matches to earn all-tournament honors. She was joined on the all-tournament team by freshman teammate Kalehua Katagiri, who racked up 36 digs and tallied two aces in each match for the Bears. Also making the all-tournament team were Audrey Krajec of Millikin, Kelly Schuh of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Lauren Lorenz and Sam Szarmach of Elmhurst.

Washington U. 3, Millikin 2
After dropping the first two sets against Millikin, the Washington U. offense found a rhythm in set three. The Bears jumped out to a 4-0 lead after back-to-back ace serves by freshman Alex Sheredy. A kill and an ace by senior Meghan Byrne gave Washington U. a 9-6 lead, but a 5-0 run by Millikin gave the Big Blue an 11-9 lead. The Bears' tied the score three times before a kill through the block by Nelligan knotted the score at 16-16. A 4-1 run for the Big Blue gave them the lead back at 20-17, but a block by Nelligan and sophomore Nkiru Udenze, an attacking error by Millikin and two kills by Sheredy helped the Bears regain the lead at 21-20. Millikin tied it again at 21-21 before another kill by Sheredy and a solo block by senior Emily Tulloch made it 23-21. After taking a timeout, Millikin scored two points to tie it once again at 23-23. Sheredy hammered a kill through the block and Tulloch and sophomore Allison Zastrow recorded a block to give the Bears the 25-23 win in set three.

In the fourth set, Millikin took an 11-8 lead on a kill by Krajec, but the Bears went on a 6-0 run behind the serving of sophomore Cassie Wang, to take a 14-11 lead. Washington U. did not relinquish the lead the remainder of the set, and an ace serve by Tulloch made it 21-17, forcing a timeout by the Big Blue. An attacking error by Millikin gave the Bears a 24-22 lead, before a kill by Sara Travis trimmed the Bears' lead to 24-23. Millikin's fourth attacking error of the set sealed the 25-23 win for the Bears that tied the match at two sets each.

In the decisive fifth set, the teams traded leads until a kill by Krajec put Millikin ahead 6-5. The Bears went on a 6-0 run, including a kill each and a pair of blocks by Nelligan and senior Tessa Blood, to open up an 11-6 lead. The Big Blue pulled to within 12-9, before a kill by Blood made it 13-9. A block by Udenze and freshman Caroline Dupont gave the Bears' match point, and Dupont sealed the win with a kill to give Washington U. the 15-9 set-five win.

Millikin controlled the first two sets, leading from start to finish in both. The Big Blue hit .440 in the opening set, while limiting Washington U. to a .000 hitting percentage. The Bears recorded five blocks in the second set, but were hampered by eight attacking errors.

As a team, Washington U. finished with a .225 hitting percentage, including .412 in each of the fourth and fifth sets. The Bears also tallied a season-high 12 blocks. Sheredy led Washington U. with 18 kills, nine digs and four aces. Nelligan added a career-high 17 kills and seven blocks, while Byrne finished with 10 kills and two aces. Blood chipped in with six kills and a career-high six blocks off the bench. Wang finished with 26 assists, while Zastrow added 24. Katagiri was the lone player with double-digit kills, finishing with 16.

Elmhurst 3, Washington U. 2
The teams traded winning the first four sets, to move to a fifth set. In the decisive set, Washington U. scored the first five points of the set behind the serving of senior Tanya Marvi and a pair of kills by junior Lindsay Juriga. A kill by Megan Reynolds brought Elmhurst to within 6-4, but kills by Juriga, Sheredy and Dupont pushed the Bears' lead back to five at 9-4. A 5-1 run by the Bluejays closed the gap to 10-9 before an attacking error by Elmhurst and Nelligan's fourth solo block of the match put the Bears ahead 12-9. Elmhurst scored three-straight points to tie the score at 12-12, but kills by Sheredy and Nelligan gave the Bears' a match-point opportunity at 14-12. The Bluejays battled through two match points for Washington U. and picked up a third-straight point to get their own match-point opportunity at 15-14. Kaitlyn Wilks was called long to tie the score at 15-15. A kill by Sheredy tied the score at 16-16 on another match-point opportunity for Elmhurst before the Bluejays scored the final two points to finish the match with the 18-16 win.

Washington U. got off to a slow start in the opening set, but scored four-straight points to tie the score at 12-12. After another tie at 13-13, the Bluejays put together an 8-2 run to take control with a 21-15 lead. The Bears got to within four points, but were unable to close the deficit as Elmhurst earned a 25-20 win in set one. Washington U. hit just .098 in the first set, while Elmhurst posted a .263 hitting percentage.

The second set was all Washington U., as the Bears hit .429 with no errors and recorded five blocks to hold Elmhurst to a -.120 hitting percentage. Washington U. built a 9-4 lead early, before putting together an 11-4 run to open up a 20-8 lead on an ace serve by freshman Corey Salzer. Elmhurst was unable to cut the lead to single digits and a solo block by Nelligan finished the set as the Bears won 25-14 to even the match.

In set three, the Bears took an early 6-4 lead, but Elmhurst went on a 7-1 run to take control at 11-7. The Bluejays pushed their lead to five points and led throughout the remainder of the set before finishing with a 25-19 win to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Washington U.'s offense got back on track in the fourth set, building a 16-9 lead on an ace by Salzer. Back-to-back kills by Palucki and Zastrow extended the Bears' lead to 19-11. Elmhurst closed to within four at 23-19 but a ball-handling error and kill by Palucki ended the set and forced a fifth set in the match.

Washington U. finished with a .216 hitting percentage and eight blocks, while Elmhurst hit .205 and tallied five blocks. Nelligan had 13 kills, a career-high seven digs and a season-best four solo blocks, while finishing with six total blocks in the match. Sheredy recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 13 kills and 10 digs, while Dupont added 12 kills. Palucki hit a team-best .400 in the match, finishing with eight kills. Wang got her second double-double of the season with 26 assists and 11 digs, while Zastrow tallied 19 assists. Katagiri recorded 20 digs, two aces and five assists. Marvi added a season-high 16 digs for the Bears.

Washington U. (11-4) returns to action with a match at Greenville College at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, in Greenville, Ill. The Bears then travel to Cleveland, Ohio, for three matches in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Round Robin #1 Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 5-6.

Bear Notebook: Washington U. leads the all-time series against Millikin, 8-4, while Elmhurst leads the all-time series, 8-7, against the Bears … Katagiri has recorded double-digit digs in 11-straight matches, and has now tallied 20 or more digs five times this season … Washington U.'s win over Millikin snapped a six-match win streak for the Big Blue … Elmhurst has lost just 10 sets in its first 17 matches of the season … The loss to Elmhurst was the first at home for the Bears this season … Elmhurst entered the weekend ranked ninth in NCAA Division III with a .277 hitting percentage and 10th with 2.5 blocks per set.