St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 26, 2018 – The No. 12-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team celebrated the careers of its four senior members prior to its second match of the Baden Invitational, as the Bears split their pair of matches Friday evening.
WashU exits Friday's action with a 20-6 overall record, while Aurora University improved to 21-6 with the win over the Bears and Wartburg fell to 15-11 after the loss. The Red & Green nearly doubled their output in the win over the Knights, finishing with 53 kills, 52 assists, 51 digs and 10 blocks.
Meanwhile senior Natalie Stephanus became just the 22nd player in WashU program history to reach the 1,000 dig club. She did so with nine digs against Wartburg and four against Aurora, increasing her career total to 1,002.
Match 1: Aurora 3 – WashU 0
Set 1: Aurora 25 – WashU 15
WashU found itself in a five -point deficit early on, trailing 7-2, but rallied to within three on a kill by junior Hannah Turner. Freshman Michaela Bach also brought the Bears to within three at 14-11 but the Bears would not draw any closer. Senior middle Julianne Malek and junior middle Leila King totaled seven of the Bears points on three kills apiece and a block assist.
Set 2: Aurora 25 – WashU 22
WashU led on seven different occasions in the second set. The final Bears lead came when sophomore Kirby Knapp had a kill assisted by sophomore Rachel Cheng. WashU led 17-16 at the time. Bach led the Bears attack during the set with four kills.
Set 3: Aurora 25 – WashU 10
The Spartans hit .542 in the final set compared to WashU's .111 percentage. Freshman Caitlin Lorenz had two kills on five attempts.
Match 2: WashU 3 – Wartburg 1
Set 1: WashU 25 – Wartburg 20
Sophomore Tricia Brown carried the Bears offense in the first set, totaling five kills on eight attempts with no errors, while Malek contributed three service aces. Malek's three aces came during a six-point Bears run that gave WashU a 7-1 edge.
The Knights rallied for a 16-15 lead, before back-to-back kills by senior Ifeoma Ufondu and Brown helped the Bears regain the lead for good. WashU closed out the 25-20 set, with multiple blocks as senior Lauren Martin led the way with two.
Set 2: Wartburg 25 – WashU 20
WashU trailed midway through the second set but rallied to even the score three times. The final knotted up score was at 17-all on a kill by Martin.
Set 3: WashU 25 – Wartburg 17
A kill and block by Ufondu helped WashU to a three-point edge before Turner added back-to-back kills to push the Bears ahead 6-2. However, the Knights the next seven points to take a 9-6 advantage.
A pair of blocks by Lorenz capped off a five-point swing back in the Bears favor as WashU led 11-9. The back-and-forth scoring continued on for several points before the Red & Green took command of the set scoring eight straight points, which included multiple kills by Brown and Turner. WashU took the set, 25-17 on a kill by Ufondu. Turner had five kills on seven attempts in the set.
Set 4: WashU 25 – Wartburg 20
WashU finished the match with its top hitting percentage, .324, as Turner once again had a flawless set totaling three kills on five attempts with no errors. Malek contributed three block assists down the stretch, totaling seven on the night to match her career-high figure which she has reached on three previous occasions.
The Bears dominated much of the set and led 24-14, before Wartburg scored the next six points. WashU claimed the match on a kill by Bach assisted by Brown.
Brown led the Bears with 15 kills in the victory and had a .312 hitting percentage, while Ufondu also recorded 13 kills. Ufondu stands in 25th place all-time in school history with 1,045 kills just five shy of tying Erin Albers (2006-09) for 24th place.
Junior libero Zoe Baxter recorded 31 digs against Wartburg which helped her bypass Kathy Bersett (1987-90) for sixth place all-time in program history. Baxter has accumulated 1,556 digs which is four shy of reaching Laura Brazeal (2006-09) in fifth place.
WashU will continue play in the Baden Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 27 with a 1:30 p.m. match against Millikin University (14-16) and a 3:30 p.m. match against University of Texas at Dallas (20-7). UTD defeated Millikin in straight sets on Friday in both teams only match of the evening. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.