No. 12 Bears Top Wheaton, No. 5 Wittenberg in ASICS Invite

No. 12 Bears Top Wheaton, No. 5 Wittenberg in ASICS Invite

St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 6, 2014 – The No. 12-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team battled to a pair of wins over Wheaton College (Ill.) and No. 5 Wittenberg University on the second day of the WU/ASICS Invitational Saturday at the WU Field House. The Bears earned a 25-17, 25-22, 19-25, 26-24 win over Wheaton before winning a 25-22, 15-25, 25-21, 10-25, 15-8 thriller over Wittenberg in the final match of the tournament.

Washington U. improved to 8-1 with the wins. Sophomores Kalehua Katagiri and Amanda Palucki and junior Jackie Nelligan were named to the all-tournament team. The three Bears were joined on the all-tournament team by Andy DeMoss of Wheaton, Kaitlyn Foster and Chandler Lentz of Southwestern University, and Kara Seidenstricker and Megan Vodopich of Wittenberg.

Washington U. 3, Wheaton 1

The teams traded points to a 5-5 tie before a kill by junior Allison Zastrow gave the Bears a side-out and sparked a 6-1 run, including a kills and two aces by sophomore Alex Sheredy. The Thunder cut the lead to 12-9, but a kill by freshman Emily Richardson started a string of five straight points for the Bears to make it 17-9. Wheaton pulled to within five at 19-14, but three kills by Nelligan and an ace serve by senior Lindsay Juriga, helped lift the Bears to a 25-17 win in set one. The Bears hit .433 (15-2-30) in the opening set.

In set two, Wheaton took a 5-2 lead early before the Bears went on a 9-0 run to turn the deficit into an 11-5 lead. The run was started with a kill by Sheredy and included three aces by Juriga. Wheaton got to within three at 18-15, but the Bears responded with four straight points to extend the lead to 22-15. A serving error by the Bears gave Wheaton a side-out and the Thunder scored the next four points to get to within 22-20. After a timeout by the Bears, Nelligan put away a kill and Washington U. held off the Thunder with a 25-22 win in set two.

Wheaton took the early lead in the third set, and a quick kill by Nelligan made it 8-7 in favor of the Thunder. Wheaton went on an 8-1 run to build a 16-8 lead before sophomore Caroline Dupont won a joust at the net to end the run. A kill and an ace by Dupont got the Bears to within 17-11. The Thunder maintained their lead and an ace made the score 20-12. A serving error gave the Bears a side-out and Washington U. went on a 5-0 run to get to within 20-17 on a kill by Nelligan. Back-to-back errors by the Bears made it 22-17, and Wheaton finished the set with a 25-19 win to send the match to a fourth set.

The teams traded leads early in the fourth set, before Palucki came off the bench to provide a spark for the Bears. With Washington U. leading 8-7, Palucki and Nelligan teamed up for a block to get a side-out. A pair of kills by Palucki and a kill off the block by junior Nkiru Udenze made it 12-7 in favor of the Bears. Wheaton got to within 14-13, but a line shot by Zastrow and a kill by Nelligan made it 16-13. The Thunder tied the score at 23-23 and again at 24-24, but a kill by Palucki and an ace by Sheredy ended the match.

Washington U. hit .235 as a team in the match. Nelligan recorded a career-high 18 kills while hitting .517 (18-3-29) and added five blocks. Dupont finished with 12 kills and three blocks. Juriga had a career-best 24 assists and four aces, while junior Cassie Wang tallied 22 assists and eight digs. Katagiri led the Bears defensively with 12 digs, while Sheredy added 10 digs, three aces and four blocks.

Washington U. 3, Wittenberg 2

After splitting the first four sets, Washington U. and Wittenberg headed to a decisive fifth set. In that set, the Bears recorded 11 kills on 13 attacks for a .846 attack percentage to earn the win. With the score tied 2-2, Wittenberg missed its second serve of the set to give the Bears a side-out. Zastrow rolled a kill along the top of the net and Sheredy got a kill down the line to put the Bears ahead 5-2 and force a Wittenberg timeout. The Tigers pulled to within 7-5 with a kill, but Palucki got back-to-back kills to make it 9-5 in favor of the Bears. After the Tigers took their second timeout, Udenze and Dupont teamed up for a block and Palucki hammered her fourth kill of the set. A kill from the back row by Sheredy pushed the Bears' lead to 12-5. Seidenstricker got a kill for Wittenberg, but Udenze got a pair of kills to give the Bears match point at 14-7. A serving error by WUSTL gave Wittenberg a side-out, before Zastrow hammered her career-high 13th kill of the match to seal the 15-8 victory for the Bears.

Washington U. won a hard-fought first set 25-22. The teams traded leads throughout the set with neither team gaining more than a three-point advantage. A line shot by Sheredy made it 22-21 in favor of Washington U. and forced Wittenberg to take its second timeout. After the break, Seidenstricker put away a kill to tie the score again. Sheredy and Nelligan came up with a big block on the next play and another block by Palucki and Nelligan gave the Bears a set-point opportunity. Palucki finished the set with a kill to give the Bears the 25-22 win. Wittenberg hit .310 in the second set to cruise to a 25-15 win, tying the match at one set each. The Bears led 8-6 after a kill by Palucki, but Wittenberg went on a 7-0 run to build a 13-8 lead. Washington U. got to within four, but was unable to cut further into the deficit and the Tigers scored six of the final seven points of the set for the win. 

The Bears jumped on top 8-3 in the third set. Wittenberg rallied to within 10-7 before a kill by Nelligan and a block by Udenze started a 6-2 run that pushed the Bears' lead to 16-9. The Bears led 23-18 after a tip by Zastrow landed just inside the sideline, but Wittenberg answered with three straight points to make it 23-21. Zastrow hit a cross-court kill to give the Bears a set-point opportunity, then teamed with Nelligan for a block to finish the 25-21 win for the Bears. The fourth set was all Wittenberg as the Bears struggled to get into their offensive system. The Tigers hit .395 in the set and used an 11-0 run midway through the set to build a 19-4 lead. Three straight kills by Palucki brought the Bears to within 22-10, but Wittenberg came out of a timeout and scored three unanswered points to win the set and force a fifth set.

Washington U. hit .234 (58-18-171) in the match, while Wittenberg finished with a .289 (65-15-173) attack percentage. Zastrow led the Bears with a career-high 13 kills. Sheredy notched a double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs, while Udenze finished with 10 kills and three blocks. Palucki tallied nine kills, including four kills on four swings in the fifth set. Dupont had seven kills without an error, and Nelligan added six kills and five blocks. Wang finished with 29 assists and 13 digs, while Juriga had the first double-double of her career with 13 assists and a career-high 13 digs. Katagiri had a team-high 23 digs, marking her third 20-plus dig performance of the season.

Washington U. returns to action Friday-Saturday, Sept. 12-13, at the Wittenberg Fall Classic in Springfield, Ohio. The Bears are scheduled to face No. 4 California Lutheran University, No. 1 Calvin College, Otterbein University and Heldelberg University at the tournament.

Bear Notebook: Washington U. leads the all-time series against Wheaton 8-0, and it was the first meeting between the two teams since 1993 … The Bears improved to 14-2 all-time against Wittenberg … WUSTL is now 461-50 all-time at the WU Field House.