WashU Sweeps Its Way to UAA Championship Match

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

Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 3, 2017 – The No. 19-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team advanced to the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship match, scheduled on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. (ET) after defeating New York University 3-0 during its quarterfinal match prior to sweeping No. 20 University of Chicago in straight sets in the semifinals Friday afternoon in the Woodruff P.E. Center.

The Bears improved to 23-9 as the Violets dropped to 10-21 and Chicago fell to 23-7. The Red & Green recorded a .381 hitting percentage against NYU which was its highest in 13 matches since the Bears win over Fontbonne on Oct. 6.

WashU followed up their performance by outhitting Chicago (.257-.124) while recording 50 kills compared to the Maroons' 37. Junior Ifeoma Ufondu tied a career-high with 20 kills against Chicago to lead the Bears attack.

Match 1: WashU 3 – NYU 0 (25-13, 25-21, 25-9)

Junior Julianne Malek (.588) and freshman Tricia Brown (.364) tallied 10 kills apiece to lead the Bears while successfully swinging above a .300 rate. Sophomore Leila King finished with a match high .857 hitting percentage as she totaled six kills in seven attempts.

Also contributing 21 kills to the Bears 47-29 advantage over NYU were Ufondu (nine), junior Lauren Martin (seven) and sophomore Hannah Turner (five). WashU's attack was paced by freshman Kirby Knapp (24) and sophomore Chloe Stile (17) as both setters reached double figures in assists.

Defensively the Bears had several members contribute multiple digs as sophomore Zoe Baxter (12) and junior Natalie Stephanus (11) led the way. WashU held an eight-to-two advantage in blocks while Malek played a hand in four block assists.

The Bears cruised to an 8-1 advantage in the first set when Knapp assisted on five straight points including four consecutive kills by Malek. The Violets rallied to within five points three times but a block by King and Turner closed out the set 25-13.

NYU remained neck-and-neck with WashU through the second set as the Bears never led by more than five points. WashU utilized a 6-1 run to separate from NYU after the Violets tied the score at 14-all. Brown and Ufondu recorded the final two points for WashU on kills in the 25-21 victory.

The Red & Green pushed ahead of NYU with seven straight points after the Violets scored the initial point of the third set. Ufondu had three kills while Malek and Martin combined on a kill after an ace from Brown during the 7-1 run. Back-to-back Violet errors closed out the set 25-9 and the match 3-0 in favor of WashU.

Match 2: WashU 3 – Chicago 0 (25-23, 25-12, 25-21)

In addition to Ufondu's match-high 20 kills, Brown (eight), Malek (seven) Turner (six), King (five) and Martin (four) added to the Bears attack. Stile set up 22 of the Bears kills as Knapp contributed 18 assists.

Four Bears reached double figures in digs including a team leading 13 apiece by Baxter and senior Lauren Fournier. Knapp added 12 digs and Stephanus tallied 11 as the Bears finished with a combined 70 in the three setter.

WashU stumbled out of the gate during the first set when Chicago built a 22-16 advantage, however, a kill from Ufondu sparked an eight-point swing that included four kills from the Lancaster, Calif.-native. The Bears completed the first set comeback by scoring nine of the final 10 points.

The Bears attack left little to the imagination in the second set as they found the court .556 percent of the time in cruising to the 25-12 win. Ufondu added seven kills in the second set while Brown, Malek and Turner combined for nine.

Chicago fought its way back into the third and final set with a 10-1 run but a kill from Malek and an error on the Maroons ended the set as WashU advanced to the UAA Championship match for the second time under head coach Vanessa Walby's four-year tenure.

The Bears advanced to the UAA Championship match for the 26th time in school history. WashU will face No. 7 Emory in the finals for 16th time in conference championship history. The Bears hold a 10-5 all-time edge. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.