Rochester, N.Y., Nov. 6, 2015 – The No. 3-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team earned a pair of sweeps against New York University and Case Western Reserve University Friday to advance to the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship match for the 26th time in school history.
The Bears improved to 31-2 overall with the two wins. They will face No. 1 Emory University at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday in the conference title match. It marks the 15th time in UAA history that the two teams will square off in the championship.
WashU def. New York 25-12, 25-18, 25-9
The Bears got off to a hot start to the day, putting together their best offensive match of the season to sweep NYU in the quarterfinals. WashU jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the match after an ace serve by senior Jackie Nelligan. After an error by WashU made it 12-6, a serving error by NYU gave the Bears a side-out and junior Caroline Dupont served four straight points to extend the lead to 17-6. The Violets closed to within eight at 20-12 on a kill, but Dupont answered with a kill and junior Amanda Palucki served the final four points to give WashU the 25-12 win.
In set two, the Bears were hampered by four early serving errors and trailed 15-16 after a kill by the Violets. The ensuing NYU serve sailed long and Dupont served the next eight points for the Bears as they turned the deficit into a 24-16 lead. The Violets got a side-out and another point before Nelligan ended the set with a kill down the line to give WashU the 25-18 win in set two.
WashU scored five straight points to take an early 8-4 lead in set three. NYU got to within 9-6 with a kill, but a serving error gave the Bears a side-out. Senior Nkiru Udenze then served 13 straight points, including a career-high six aces, to make the score 23-6 in favor of WashU. NYU was able to fight off two set points, but a serving error by the Violets ended the match with a 25-9 win for the Bears.
WashU hit a season-best .475 (45-7-80) as a team in the match, including .647 (13-2-17) in the third set. NYU was limited to .000 attacking (16-16-81) for the match. Udenze led the Bears with 10 kills, eight digs and her six aces in the third set. Dupont finished with nine kills, while Nelligan and junior Rexi Sheredy added eight kills each. Udenze (10-0-14) and Dupont (9-0-12) both finished without any attacking errors while hitting .714 and .750, respectively. Senior Allison Zastrow tallied 38 assists and four digs, while sophomore Lauren Fournier led WashU defensively with 11 digs.
WashU def. Case 25-16, 25-23, 25-18
The Bears and Spartans played closely to start the semifinal match, and Nelligan's fourth kill made it 9-6 in favor of WashU. Case got to within 12-10, but a serve into the net gave WashU a side-out. Kills by Udenze and Zastrow, followed by a block by Dupont and Udenze extended the Bears' lead to 16-10 and forced Case to take its second timeout. A kill by Sheredy stretched the lead to eight at 22-14, but the Spartans answered with a pair of points to get to within six. A serve by Case sailed long and Sheredy followed with an ace off the top of the net, before Nelligan won a joust at the net to secure the 25-16 win for WashU.
In set two, the teams played back and forth until Sheredy and Nelligan got back-to-back kills then teamed up for a block to give WashU an 11-7 lead. Back-to-back kills by Dupont extended WashU's lead to 17-11. The Spartans began to chip away at the lead, but Sheredy tooled the block for a kill to make it 21-16 in favor of WashU. Case went on a 6-1 run to tie the score at 22-22 and again at 23-23, but Dupont hammered a kill through the block and Sheredy put away a kill from the back row on set-point to give WashU the 25-23 win.
The Bears took an early lead in set three, but Case closed to within 9-8. Dupont answered with a kill, then served four straight points, including a pair of aces, to make it 14-8 in favor of the Bears. The Spartans pulled to within three at 17-14, but that was as close as they could get the remainder of the match as WashU won set three 25-18.
WashU hit .226 (45-17-124) in the match, while Case finished with a .099 (28-16-121) hitting percentage. The Bears also had 10 blocks in the match, including four in the second set. Sheredy and Dupont led the Bears with 10 kills each. Sheredy also finished with 15 digs, while Dupont added eight digs, four blocks and two aces. Nelligan had nine kills and five blocks, while Udenze and Palucki had seven kills and four blocks each. Udenze also led WashU defensively with 16 digs and added two aces. Zastrow tallied 35 assists and six digs for the Bears.
Bear Notebook: It marks the 29th season in school history that WashU has reached the 30-win mark ... WashU improved to 45-2 all-time against NYU … The Bears lead the all-time series against Case 41-1 … NYU dropped to 15-18 overall and will play in the seventh-place match Saturday, while Case is 23-7 and will face the University of Chicago in the third-place match … Sheredy (1,048) and Dupont (1,046) moved past Whitney Smith (2003-06) to rank 23rd and 24th, respectively, on WashU's all-time career kills leaderboard … Nelligan brought her career blocking total to 445, passing Emilie Walk (2004-06) for fifth on the Bears' all-time list … Dupont passed Megan Houck (2002-05) for 10th on WashU's all-time career block assists leaderboard with 259.