No. 7 Bears Fall Short vs. No. 5 Emory in Regional Championship

No. 7 Bears Fall Short vs. No. 5 Emory in Regional Championship

St. Louis, Mo., Nov. 16, 2014 – The No. 7-ranked Washington University in St. Louis had its season come to an end with a hard-fought 23-25, 25-19, 18-25, 27-25, 12-15 loss to No. 5 Emory University in the championship match of the NCAA Division III St. Louis, Missouri Regional Sunday afternoon at the WU Field House.

Washington University ended its season with a 35-6 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Regional Championship match for the 27th time in school history. Emory improved to 37-3 with the win. Sophomore Caroline Dupont and junior Allison Zastrow were selected to the Regional All-Tournament team for Washington U. They were joined by Thomas More College's Jenna Fessler, Hendrix College's Sara Dyslin, and Emory's Leah Jacobs, Cat McGrath and Sarah Maher.

After the teams traded set wins to a 2-2 tie, Emory took an early 3-1 lead in the decisive fifth set. Three straight errors by the Eagles and a block by Zastrow and junior Jackie Nelligan quickly turned the deficit into a 5-3 lead for the Bears. Emory answered with a 5-1 run to take an 8-6 lead as the teams switched sides. The Bears took advantage of Emory's 16th and 17th service errors of the match to tie the score at 9-9, before back-to-back kills by the Eagles gave them an 11-9 lead. Dupont tooled the block for a kill and junior Nkiru Udenze hammered a cross-court kill to tie the score again at 11-11. An attack error by the Bears, followed by a kill by Dupont made it 12-12, before a kill by Jacobs gave Emory a 13-12 advantage. Emory's ensuing serve hit the tape and fell over the net for an ace and Maher got a kill on match-point to give the Eagles the 15-12 win. 

Washington U. and Emory played point-for-point throughout the first set and a block by Dupont and Udenze gave the Bears a 19-18 edge. After taking a timeout, the Eagles scored four straight points to take a 22-19 lead, but Dupont and Zastrow teamed up for Washington U.'s fourth block of the set to cut the lead to two. After a side-out by Emory and a timeout by Washington U., the Eagles missed their sixth serve of the set and Dupont followed with a quick ace to bring the Bears with 23-22. A serve into the net gave Emory a set-point opportunity at 24-22, but Zastrow found the floor with a kill to make it 24-23 before Maher put away her fifth kill of the set to give the Eagles the 25-23 set-one win.

In the second set, Emory took an early 9-7 lead, but sophomore Amanda Palucki hammered a kill to give the Bears a side-out and spark a 5-0 run by the Bears. After back-to-back ball-handling errors by Emory, Palucki got another kill and sophomore Kalehua Katagiri served an ace to make it 12-9 in favor of Washington U. The teams traded points to a 13-11 lead for Washington U. before Dupont and Zastrow combined for five straight kills to extend the Bears' lead to 18-11. The Eagles got to within four at 19-15 on an ace serve, but a serving error and a ball-handling error by Emory made it 21-15 in favor of the Bears. Palucki followed with a kill off a ball set over the net by Emory to regain a seven-point lead for the Bears. Emory closed the deficit to 23-18 after back-to-back errors by the Bears, but the Eagles' ninth serving error of the match gave the Bears a set-point opportunity, and Udenze got a kill to finish the set 25-19 and even the match at one set apiece.

The Eagles built a 13-9 lead on a block in the third set, and maintained the four-point advantage to 17-13. A tip over the block by Dupont, an attacking error by Emory and a block by Dupont and sophomore Alex Sheredy pulled Washington U. to within 17-16 and forced an Emory timeout. The Eagles went on a 6-1 run following the timeout to make it 23-17. A kill down the line by Zastrow gave the Bears a side-out, but a kill by Maher and a block by Maher and Jessica Holler gave the Eagles the 25-18 win to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

A kill by Nelligan and a block by Dupont and Palucki helped the Bears take an 11-8 lead in the fourth set. The Eagles got to within 15-13 on an ace serve and the teams traded points until back-to-back attacking errors by the Bears cut their lead to 19-18. Udenze and Sheredy got back-to-back kills, and Sheredy hammered another kill through the block to extend the Bears' lead to 22-18. Emory rallied with four straight points to tie the score at 22-22 but an attack into the net by the Eagles gave Washington U. the lead back. A kill by Emory tied the score again, but Zastrow hit a roll shot for a kill to give the Bears' a set-point opportunity at 24-23. Emory and Washington U. traded kills to a 25-25 tie, before Palucki split the block for a kill and Udenze tooled the block to finish the set with a 27-25 win for the Bears to force the fifth set.

As a team, Washington U. hit .213 (56-20-169) in the match, while Emory finished with a .265 (65-17-181) hitting percentage. The Bears out-blocked Emory 8-5, and finished with an 88-81 dig advantage.

Dupont finished with a season-high 15 kills while hitting .333, and added seven digs and four blocks to lead the Bears. Udenze also finished in double figures with 10 kills. Palucki tallied nine kills and a .333 hitting percentage, while also matching her career-high with four blocks. Nelligan added nine kills and four blocks. Zastrow finished one kill shy of a triple-double with nine kills, 21 assists, 12 digs and two blocks. Senior Lindsay Juriga had a team-high 26 assists and 13 digs, while Sheredy also finished in double-digit digs with 11. Katagiri led the Bears' defensively with 26 digs, and senior Lauren Yung finished with a season-high 16 digs, just one shy of her career-high.

Bear Notebook:  Washington U. leads the all-time series 48-10, including a 6-2 record against the Eagles all-time in the NCAA Tournament … The Bears earned a five-set win over Emory Oct. 18 (25-19, 21-25, 25-14, 22-25, 15-13) … Washington U. is 96-19 all-time in the NCAA Tournament … Juriga and Yung helped the Bears to a 127-20 (.864) record in their four seasons … Washington U. is 468-51 at home since 1985, including a 15-2 record at the WU Field House this season … It was Juriga's fifth double-double of the season and Zastrow's eighth … Katagiri finished with double-digit digs in 35 matches this season, including 20-plus digs 12 times … It was Yung's 20th double-digit dig match of her career … Sheredy finished the season with 1,117 attack attempts, which ranks seventh on Washington U.'s all-time single-season list … Katagiri finished the season with 673 digs, which was one behind Kelly Pang's 2012 total for third on Washington U.'s all-time single-season leaderboard … Nelligan tallied 120 block assists this season, which ranked sixth on the all-time single-season list … She also has 263 career block assists, which ranks ninth on the Bears' career list.