No. 8 Volleyball Sweeps No. 12 St. Thomas, Simpson

No. 8 Volleyball Sweeps No. 12 St. Thomas, Simpson

Elmhurst, Ill., Oct. 11, 2014 – The No. 8-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team earned a pair of sweeps over No. 12 University of St. Thomas (Minn.) and Simpson College Saturday afternoon at the Elmhurst Invite III. The Bears defeated St. Thomas 25-19, 25-23, 25-21, before topping Simpson 25-17, 25-17, 25-15 in their fourth match of the tournament.

Sophomores Kalehua Katagiri and Alex Sheredy were named to the all-tournament team for the Bears. They were joined by Hannah Nimrick and Sam Szarmach of Elmhurst College, Kelly Foley of St. Thomas, and Kati Schneider of St. Mary's College (Ind.)

Washington U. (23-4) returns to action with four matches at the second University Athletic Association (UAA) Round Robin, which will be hosted by the University of Chicago Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 18-19. The Bears will face the University of Rochester and No. 3 Emory University Saturday, before taking on Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University Sunday.

#8 Washington U. 3, #12 St. Thomas 0

Washington U. scored the first four points of the match and pushed its lead to 10-3 after an attack by St. Thomas went into the net. The Tommies got to within 16-11, before a hit by junior Allison Zastrow dropped into the back corner and another attack by St. Thomas sailed long to make it 18-11 in favor of the Bears. After calling a timeout, St. Thomas went on a 5-1 run to get to within 18-16 and force a Washington U. timeout. Sophomore Amanda Palucki tooled the block for a kill after the timeout, sparking a 5-1 run by the Bears that included another kill by Palucki and the first solo block of her career. St. Thomas battled through two set-point opportunities for the Bears before an attack into the net gave Washington U. the 25-19 win in set one. The Bears hit .212 as a team in the set and had three ace serves, while limiting St. Thomas to .027 attacking.

Set two started evenly until back-to-back kills by Palucki and an attacking error by St. Thomas gave Washington U. a 9-6 lead. The Bears' third missed serve of the set gave the Tommies a side-out and they went on an 8-1 run to grab a 14-10 lead after an ace serve. A kill by Zastrow ended the St. Thomas run and senior Lauren Yung served an ace to make it 14-12. The Bears tied the score at 16-16 after back-to-back kills by junior Jackie Nelligan, but St. Thomas scored the next two points to regain the lead. A kill by Sheredy and an attacking error by the Tommies tied the score at 18-18, and three points later the Bears took a 20-19 lead on a block by junior Nkiru Udenze and sophomore Caroline Dupont. The Tommies regained the lead at 22-21 on an attacking error by Washington U., but the ensuing serve sailed long to tie the score again. On the next play, an attack by St. Thomas went just long, and the Tommies hit the second ball into the antenna to make it 24-22 in favor of the Bears. St. Thomas survived a set-point for the Bears with a kill that ended a long rally with big digs by both teams to make it 24-23, but Zastrow pushed a hit through the block and down after a huge dig by Katagiri to seal the 25-23 win.

In the third set, took an early 9-6 lead after a kill and an ace by Sheredy and a block by Nelligan and Palucki. A serve by the Bears went wide of the sideline to make it 12-10 in favor of Washington U., but the Tommies served the ball out to start a 7-2 run by Washington U. that made it 19-12. After St. Thomas got a kill off a tip, a cross-court shot by Palucki gave the Bears a 20-13 advantage after two key digs by Katagiri. The Tommies took a timeout, then answered with a 7-1 run to get to within 21-20, before Palucki tipped a ball over the block for a kill and Dupont got a kill on a deep, off-speed shot. An attacking error by St. Thomas gave the Bears a match-point opportunity at 24-20. The Tommies got a block to stay alive, but Dupont finished the match with a kill as the Bears won set three 25-21.

Washington U. hit .206 (43-16-131) in the match, while St. Thomas finished with a .079 (31-21-127) attack percentage. Sheredy led the Bears with 10 kills and eight digs, while Palucki equaled her season-high with nine kills. Zastrow and Udenze added seven kills each. Junior Cassie Wang tallied 20 assists and eight digs, while senior Lindsay Juriga added 16 assists and nine digs. Katagiri had a match-high 19 digs, including eight in the second set, and Yung also finished in double-figures with 11 digs.

#8 Washington U. 3, Simpson 0

Washington U. posted a season-best .394 (47-10-94) attack percentage on its way to sweeping Simpson. After hitting .222 (16-6-45) in the first set, the Bears combined to hit .551 (31-4-49) in the second and third sets. Washington U. used an early 4-0 run to build a 10-5 lead in set one. The Storm cut the lead to 12-10, but kills by Dupont and Zastrow, along with a block by Zastrow and Nelligan, made it 15-10 in favor of Washington U. Simpson scored back-to-back points, but the Bears strung together four straight points to extend the lead to 19-12. The Storm got to within five (21-16) before a kill down the line by Dupont and back-to-back attacking errors by Simpson gave Washington U. a chance at set-point. The Bears served into the net to make it 24-17, but Udenze put away a kill to end the set 25-17 in favor of Washington U. Katagiri keyed the Bears defensively, picking up seven digs in the opening set.

The Bears got their offense on track in the second set, and a 6-0 run made it 10-6 in favor of Washington U. early. The Storm got to within three, but back-to-back kills by Sheredy, an ace serve by Zastrow and an attacking error by Simpson pushed the Bears' lead to 20-13. Washington U. continued to pull away, and a kill through the block by Udenze, followed by an attacking error by Simpson gave the Bears the 25-17 win in set two. Sheredy, Dupont and Udenze combined to hit .933 in the set for the Bears, accounting for 14 kills on 16 attacks in the set.

Washington U. continued to dominate offensively in the third set, building a 10-4 lead after a kill down the line by Palucki and an ace by Sheredy. After Washington U.'s lone attacking error of the set made the score 14-9, the Bears went on a 5-0 run that included a kill and two ace serves by Dupont to extend the lead to 19-9. Washington U. maintained the lead through the remainder of the match, and back-to-back kills by Dupont ended the match as Washington U. earned a 25-15 win. Dupont tallied five kills on nine swings in the third set for the Bears.

Dupont finished with a match-high 11 kills, while hitting at a .688 (11-0-16) clip. Sheredy and Udenze added nine kills each, while both finishing above a .430 attacking percentage. Palucki chipped in with six kills, while hitting .308. Juriga tallied 20 assists and six digs, while Wang had 21 assists. Katagiri once again led the Bears defensively, finishing with 16 digs in the match.

Bear Notebook:  Washington U. leads the all-time series against St. Thomas 13-2, and the teams were meeting for the first time since 2009 … The Bears' win ended a 13-match winning streak for St. Thomas … Washington U. improved to 6-2 against ranked teams this season with the win over the Tommies … Washington U. leads the all-time series against Simpson 24-0 … The Bears' attacking percentage against Simpson was their sixth time hitting above .300 in a match this season … Katagiri brought her season total for digs to 455, which is 87 shy of 10th on Washington U.'s single-season list … Katagiri also passed 1,000 career digs for the Bears, and now has 1,002.