No. 12 WashU Drops a Pair of Four Setters at Baden Invite

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

St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 28, 2017 – The No. 12-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team dropped a pair of four setters, first to No. 10-ranked Millikin University followed by a loss to Hendrix College to close out the Baden Invitational Saturday afternoon in the WU Field House.

WashU dropped to 20-9 on the year and lost its third consecutive match for the first time since 2013. Millikin improved to 26-6 on the year with two victories while Hendrix's day concluded with a 12-16 overall record.

Personal-bests from sophomore Zoe Baxter, freshman Kirby Knapp and junior Julianne Malek highlighted the Bears afternoon. Against Hendrix, Baxter recorded 34 digs, Knapp tallied 59 assists and Malek totaled 25 kills. Baxter and Malek were named to the Baden Invite All-Tournament Team along with DePauw's Liv Hartman and Morgan Stearley; Hendrix's Lauren Petrisin and Millikin's Emily Mihalkanin and Erin Syversen. 

Match 1: Millikin 3 – WashU 1 (14-25, 28-26, 17-25, 21-25)

Junior Ifeoma Ufondu led the Bears with 15 kills and a .324 hitting percentage in the loss against the Big Blue. Knapp paced the attack with 29 assists and added 12 digs along with Baxter.

WashU jumped ahead with a 7-3 lead in the first set with a 4-0 run including a kill by Ufondu. The Big Blue mounted a comeback and captured a 14-9 lead. A kill from freshman Tricia Brown narrowed the gap to three points, 16-13 but Millikin pulled away to close out the set 25-14.

The Bears once again claimed an early lead only to have Millikin rally past WashU at 15-13. The Big Blue narrowly clung to a lead late in the set and were a single point away from clinching a 2-0 advantage, 24-22 but a kill from Ufondu and an ace from junior Natalie Stephanus evened things up. Millikin once again scored to within a point of victory but WashU scored the final three points on a block by King and Knapp before a Big Blue error and an ace by Baxter gave the Bears a 28-26 win. 

Millikin took the early lead in the third set before WashU tied things up at 9-all. The Big Blue scored eight of the next 10 points to pull ahead 17-11 and eventually won the set on a kill by Syversen.

Multiple Millikin errors mixed in with a service ace by Malek and a kill by Ufondu gave WashU an 18-14 lead in the fourth set, but the Big Blue closed the door on the Bears with an 11-3 run.

With the victory Millikin snapped an 11 match losing streak to the Bears as WashU still possesses the all-time series lead with an 11-4 edge.

Match 2: Hendrix 3 – WashU 1 (25-27, 22-25, 26-24, 22-25)

In addition to Malek's career-high 25 kills, Ufondu (13), Brown (10) and sophomore Leila King (10) were able to reach double figures in kills. Freshman Jessica Almgren-Bell contributed five service aces for a new personal-best as well. Senior Lauren Fournier totaled 15 digs for the Bears defense.

WashU led for the majority of set number one including moving a single point away from the win on a kill by Malek, 24-22. However, the Warriors scored five of the final six points to claim the set 27-25.

The Bears trailed by seven points late in the second set, 21-14, before rallying within two points 24-22 which included three straight kills by Malek. Hendrix's All-Tournament member Petrisin provided the final point of the set, 25-22.

Six straight points were scored by Hendrix in the third set before the Bears answered back. WashU faced a daunting uphill battle with a trailing score of 23-16 but the Bears rallied to take the lead, 24-23, behind the service of Knapp. Multiple kills from Brown and back-to-back blocks by Malek and junior Lauren Martin sparked the Bears rally to a 26-24 third set win.

Both teams provided several runs to trade leads throughout the fourth set. WashU rallied to even the score three times when Hendrix claimed a lead after the 20-point plateau: 20-20, 21-21 and 22-22 but the Warriors scored the final three points to claim the match. 

The Bears loss to Hendrix is the first in school history. The two programs have met on four occasions with WashU holding a 3-1 all-time lead. 

WashU will close out the regular season at home on Tuesday, Oct. 31 with a 7 p.m. dual match against Greenville University. The match features a collaboration between WashU's Athletic Department and Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) Center to help raise awareness of violence intolerance and bystander intervention. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.