No. 19 WashU Outlasts No. 10 Illinois Wesleyan in Five Sets

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

Bloomington, Ill., Sept. 5, 2018 – The No. 19-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team clinched a five-set victory over No. 10 Illinois Wesleyan in the Shirk Center Wednesday evening as senior Ifeoma Ufondu totaled a career-high 21 kills.

WashU (2-2) and Illinois Wesleyan (2-2) traded sets back and forth before the Bears pulled out the clinching set 15-10. Ufondu was exceptional in the Bears first, third and fifth set victories tallying 17 of her kills in 23 attempts. Overall she finished with a .341 hitting percentage.

Set 1: WashU 25 – Illinois Wesleyan 21

The Bears overcame an early 13-10 deficit by utilizing a 6-1 run. Senior Lauren Martin started the run with a kill assisted by sophomore Kirby Knapp before back-to-back Ufondu kills. Sophomore Rachel Cheng added an ace on the run. The Titans momentarily took the lead back but multiple block assists down the stretch by junior Chloe Stile helped WashU clinch the set 25-21.

Set 2: Illinois Wesleyan 25 – WashU 17

The Titans ran away with the second set scoring six of the first seven points. WashU was unable to close the gap within two points. Junior Leila King led the Bears with five kills in the second frame.

Set 3: WashU 25 – Illinois Wesleyan 20

WashU hit .263 in the third set while holding the Titans to a .128 clip. Ufondu and King combined for nine of the Bears' 12 kills. Stile led the Bears with eight digs in the set while junior Zoe Baxter added six. The Titans moved within two points, 22-20, before King and Ufondu kills had WashU within a single point of the win. An attack error from Illinois Wesleyan ended the set.

Set 4: Illinois Wesleyan 25 – WashU 22

Knapp led the Bears to a 7-0 lead in the fourth set as sophomore Tricia Brown and senior Julianne Malek had three kills. Malek and freshman Michaela Bach added a block on the run. The Titans responded with six straight points of their own. Illinois Wesleyan sent the match to a fifth set with a 25-22 win.

Set 5: WashU 15 – Illinois Wesleyan 10

Illinois Wesleyan scored the first point of the set prior to a kill from Malek sending senior Natalie Stephanus to the service line. Stephanus had two aces to help the Bears out to a 4-1 advantage. Malek posted a team-leading five kills in eight attempts during the final set to help WashU close out the match with a 15-10 fifth set victory.

Ufondu led the Bears with 21 kills while King and Malek added nine kills apiece. Knapp posted 31 assists as Stile added 15. Baxter finished with a team-high 23 digs. Malek assisted on seven blocks in addition to a solo block.

WashU will open its 2018 home schedule with a pair of matches on Friday, Sept. 7 against Nebraska Wesleyan at 5 p.m. and Birmingham Southern at 7 p.m. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.