No. 18 WashU Volleyball Triumphs in Multiple Five Set Victories

Photo by WUSTL Photos/Danny Reise
Photo by WUSTL Photos/Danny Reise

Bloomington, Ill., Sept. 22, 2017 – The No. 18-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team triumphed Friday evening at the Barker Chevrolet Classic II with two consecutive five set victories, first defeating Tufts University prior to prevailing 3-2 in a rematch with No. 25 Cornell College in the Shirk Center.

WashU improved its record to 8-5 on the year, as Tufts fell to 6-2 and Cornell dropped to 11-3. The Bears took a 2-0 lead against Tufts before a fifth set was needed to decide the match: 25-16, 25-19, 20-25, 21-25 and 15-8. The Red & Green dropped the first set against Cornell before rallying for the five set win: 19-25, 25-18, 25-17, 18-25 and 15-7.

The Bears finished with better hitting percentages than the opposition in both matches, .198-.164 against Tufts and .264-.169 against Cornell.  Junior Ifeoma Ufondu was named to the All-Tournament team, after posting a team best 32 kills on Friday.

Match 1: WashU 3 – Tufts 2 (25-16, 25-19, 20-25, 21-25, 15-8) 

Three Bears reached double figures in kills with Ufondu leading the way with 19, while junior Julianne Malek and freshman Tricia Brown finished with 11 kills apiece. Freshman Kirby Knapp totaled 36 assists.

Junior Natalie Stephanus led the team with 11 digs and sophomore Zoe Baxter contributed 10 while Malek led the defensive effort at the net with four blocks.

After WashU fell behind four points in the fifth set, Stephanus turned the momentum in the Bears' favor with four straight aces. She totaled six in the match. Sophomore Leila King scored the match clinching point in the fifth set.

Match 2: WashU 3 – Cornell 2 (19-25, 25-18, 25-17, 18-25 and 15-7)

Brown finished with the most kills out of the same trio from match one to reach double figures. The Nashville, Tenn.-native improved on her season-best performance against Tufts with 16 kills against Cornell, as Ufondu contributed 13 and Malek 10. Knapp similarly reset her personal-best from the previous match with 48 assists.

Four members of the Bears' squad tallied 10 or more digs including Baxter (18), sophomore Emily Jayne (14), Knapp (11) and Stephanus (10). Jayne's figure marked a personal-best. Baxter extended her streak to 26 straight matches of reaching double figures in digs.

The Bears' combined for a season-best five solo blocks including two by Brown. Also adding solo blocks were Knapp, King and Malek.  

Brown, Malek and Ufondu combined for eight of the Bears' final 15 points to help WashU defeat Cornell in a rematch of the first weekend of the 2017 season in which the Rams won 3-1. Stephanus provided the final point for the Bears with an ace, which gave WashU its second win over an AVCA Top-25 team this year.

The Bears will travel to Cleveland, Ohio for the University Athletic Association Round Robin #1 on Saturday, Sept. 30 – Sunday, Oct. 1 against New York University, Case Western Reserve University and No. 13 Carnegie Mellon University. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.