Thousand Oaks, Calif., Nov. 15, 2015 – The No. 1-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team had its season come to an end with a 20-25, 25-17, 12-25, 21-25 loss at No. 9 California Lutheran University Sunday in the NCAA Regional Championship.
WashU finished its season with a 34-3 overall record, while Cal Lutheran improved to 28-5. The Bears' senior class of Anna Bryniarski, Jackie Nelligan, Nkiru Udenze and Allison Zastrow finished their careers with a 127-21 record in four seasons.
Juniors Caroline Dupont and Amanda Palucki were each named to the NCAA Regional all-tournament team for the Bears. Dupont equaled her season-high to lead WashU with 17 kills against CLU, while hitting .467 in the match. Palucki also finished in double figures with 10 kills.
"I said yesterday that it was going to come down to serving, blocking and defense, and it definitely did today," head coach Vanessa Walby said. "I think we outplayed them on defense, which helped, but they served aggressively and it was tough to use all three of our attacking options."
Cal Lutheran took advantage of five early attacking errors by the Bears to build a 9-3 lead in the opening set. The Bears found their offensive rhythm and battled back to pull to within 22-19 on a roll shot by junior Rexi Sheredy. Nelligan split the block for a kill to make it 23-20, but the Regals won the final two points to take set one 25-20.
The Bears came out firing in the second set and Palucki's fourth kill of the set gave WashU a 9-3 advantage. An ace by Sheredy and back-to-back kills by Zastrow and Dupont extended the lead to 13-5. The Regals cut the Bears' lead to five, but a pair of kills by Dupont, an ace by freshman Natalie Stephanus and an attack into the antenna by CLU made it 21-12 in favor of WashU. Two more kills by Dupont pushed the lead to 23-13, and a kill from the back row by Udenze ended a 3-0 run for the Regals to give WashU set-point at 24-16. After a sideout by Cal Lutheran, Zastrow dumped for a kill to even the match at one set apiece.
WashU was hampered in the third set by seven attacking errors as Cal Lutheran grabbed an early lead and went on to win 25-12 to take a 2-1 lead in the match. In set four, the Regals built a 7-3 lead, before Palucki ripped a kill down the line and Dupont hammered a kill to get to within 5-7. Cal Lutheran stretched the lead back to 13-10, but Palucki got a kill and an attack by the Regals went into the net. Udenze got a kill off an overpass to tie the score at 13-13, but a serving error by the Bears ended the run. Udenze put away another kill and Stephanus served an ace to give WashU its first lead of the set at 16-15. After a sideout by Cal Lutheran, Dupont got a kill and an attack by the Regals sailed long to make it 18-16 in favor of WashU. Dupont's 17th kill of the match gave the Bears a 19-17 advantage, but CLU went on a 4-0 run to regain the lead. The Bears fought off one match-point with a kill by Sheredy, but the line judge called a touch on a CLU attack that landed wide, ending the match with a 25-21 win for the Regals.
WashU was limited to .155 attacking in the match, including 13.5 blocks for Cal Lutheran. The Regals hit .234 in the match. In addition to Dupont and Palucki with double-digit kills, Udenze added nine kills, while Nelligan had eight. Sheredy added six blocks and 11 digs. Zastrow had a double-double with 42 assists and 10 digs. Stephanus led the Bears defensively with 16 digs, while sophomore Lauren Fournier added 14.
Bear Notebook: Cal Lutheran leads the all-time series against the two teams 3-2 … The Regals also defeated the Bears in four sets Sept. 19 in Atlanta … WashU finished the season 8-3 against ranked teams … Nelligan finished her career ranked third in career block assists (388), fourth in total career blocks (465) and 18th in career kills (1,123) … Zastrow finished her career ranked 10th on WashU's all-time career assists list (2,624) … Udenze finished her career with 1,011 kills, 27th on WashU's all-time leaderboard ... Dupont enters her senior season ranked 10th on the WashU career block assists list (264) and 20th in career kills (1,094) … Sheredy enters her senior season ranked 21st in career kills (1,090) … Nelligan finished 2015 ranked fourth on the Bears' single-season block assists list (125) and tied for ninth with 148 total blocks … Zastrow's 1,525 assists this season is the ninth-highest single-season total in school history … Sheredy had 1,080 attacks this season, 10th on the WashU single-season list.