St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 6, 2013 – The No. 7-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team opened the WU/ASICS National Invitational with a 25-15, 25-18, 25-21 win over Ohio Northern University Friday evening.
The Bears got off to a hot start, hitting .350 in the opening set while limiting Ohio Northern to nine kills and five errors for a .089 hitting percentage. Washington U. scored the first four points of the match behind strong serving by senior Meghan Byrne, including an ace serve. The Polar Bears made it 9-5 in favor of Washington U. with a kill by Ellie Gillespie, but a kill down the line by sophomore Jackie Nelligan forced ONU to call a timeout. Washington U. pushed its lead to 15-8 on an ace serve by freshman Kalehua Katagiri. The Bears led 21-13 and three kills on three swings by senior Emily Tulloch made it 23-14 before a kill by freshman Caroline Dupont and an attacking error by the Polar Bears gave WUSTL the 25-15 win in set one.
After neither team recorded a block in the opening set, the Bears scored the first point of set two on a block by Nelligan and sophomore Nkiru Udenze. A solo block by Dupont gave the Bears a 7-3 lead and caused ONU to call its first timeout. Washington U. led 14-10 after a kill by Nelligan, but the Polar Bears scored two-straight points to cut the lead to two. After a timeout by the Bears, Udenze hammered a kill to make it 15-12. Ohio Northern pulled to within 18-15 on a kill by Claire Heitkamp before back-to-back kills by Dupont and Byrne gave the Bears a 20-15 lead. The Polar Bears again cut the lead to three at 21-18, but Washington U. scored the final four points, including another block by Nelligan and Udenze that ended the set, to win 25-18.
In the third set, Ohio Northern jumped out to an 8-2 lead thanks to four attacking errors by the Bears. Washington U. chipped away at the lead before tying the score at 14-14 on Byrne's third ace serve of the match. The Polar Bears regained the lead on an attacking error by the Bears, but a kill by Udenze and back-to-back kills by freshman Alex Sheredy gave Washington U. the lead for good (17-15). Ohio Northern was within 22-20 but a big kill by Byrne followed by her fourth ace of the night gave the Bears match point. After a net violation was called against the Bears, an ONU service error ended the match, giving Washington U. the 25-21 win in set three.
Sheredy led the Bears offensively with 15 kills and 14 digs, marking her third double-double of the season. Byrne added eight kills with zero errors while hitting at a .364 clip. She also equaled her career-high with four aces for the third time this season and assisted on two blocks. Nelligan and Dupont each added three blocks, while Udenze had two. Sophomore Cassie Wang tallied 22 assists, while sophomore Allison Zastrow finished with 16. Katagiri finished with a team-high 16 digs, and senior Tanya Marvi also reached double figures with 10.
Washington U. (6-0) returns to action with a pair of matches against top-25 opponents Saturday at the WU/ASICS National Invitational. The Bears take on No. 21 Pacific Lutheran University (2-3) at 10 a.m., followed by a meeting against No. 3 Wittenberg University (1-3) at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Lutheran upset Wittenberg 25-20, 27-25, 25-19 in Friday's first match.
Bear Notebook: Washington U. leads the all-time series against Ohio Northern, 25-5 … The Bears have a record of 442-48 (.902) at home since 1985 … With six service aces against Ohio Northern, Washington U. has now recorded 52 aces in its first six matches.