Elmhurst, Ill., Nov. 15, 2013 – The No. 11-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team had its season come to an end with a 26-28, 18-25, 18-25 loss at No. 5 Elmhurst College Friday evening in the 2013 NCAA Division III Elmhurst, Ill., Regional Semifinal.
Washington U. ended its season with a 27-8 record overall. The Bears' four seniors – Tessa Blood, Meghan Byrne, Tanya Marvi and Emily Tulloch – ended their careers with a 127-18 record at Washington University. Elmhurst extended its winning streak to 14 matches, and has now won 37 straight matches on its home court dating to Sept. 2011. The Bluejays improved to 37-4 on the season and will face No. 2 Hope College in the Regional Championship Saturday.
The Bears got off to a hot start offensively in the match, recording seven kills on their first 11 attacks, including three-straight kills by freshman Caroline Dupont, to jump out to an 8-2 lead. Elmhurst chipped away at the lead, closing to within one at 16-15, but a tip shot by Dupont made it 17-15 and she followed with an ace serve to push the Bears' lead back to three. Elmhurst pulled to within two at 22-20, but another kill by Dupont made it 23-20 in favor of Washington U. After a timeout, the Bluejays scored four straight points to turn the deficit into a 24-23 lead. A block by Dupont and freshman Alex Sheredy, followed by a kill from the back row by Sheredy, gave Washington U. a set-point opportunity at 25-24, but a service error evened the score at 25-25. The Bluejays got another set-point opportunity after a block, but sophomore Allison Zastrow won a joust at the net to tie it again at 26-26. The Bears' sixth service error of the set gave Elmhurst its third set-point opportunity and the Bluejays got a kill to earn the 28-26 win in set one.
Washington U. took the early lead again in set two, gaining a 4-2 advantage off a kill by sophomore Nkiru Udenze and three by Sheredy. Three straight points for Elmhurst gave the Bluejays the lead, but Udenze's sixth kill of the match made it 9-8 in favor of Washington U. The Bluejays answered with a 6-0 run to take control of the set with a 14-9 lead. The Bears' eighth service error of the match made it a 17-12 advantage for Elmhurst, but a kill on a slide by Dupont and a back-row kill by Sheredy brought Washington U. to within 17-14. Another 3-0 run pushed Elmhurst's lead back to six as the Bluejays went on to take set two, 25-18.
In set three, Elmhurst took control early, gaining a 9-4 lead and pushing it to 15-7. After Washington U.'s second timeout of the set, Byrne hammered a kill off the block for the first of three points in a row for the Bears as they closed the gap to 15-10. Elmhurst answered with three straight points to regain an eight-point lead (18-10), before a 5-0 run for the Bears trimmed the lead to 18-15 and forced the Bluejays to call a timeout. Elmhurst went on a 5-1 run after the timeout to make it 23-16, before back-to-back errors by the Bluejays brought Washington U. to within 23-18. The Bears' 12th service error of the match set up match-point and Elmhurst sealed the win when an attack by the Bears sailed wide to end the match.
Washington U. hit .211 in the match, while Elmhurst hit .347 with just seven attacking errors. The .347 hitting percentage was a season-high for a Bears' opponent. Elmhurst also finished with six blocks in the match to just one for Washington U. After serving seven aces in Thursday's match, the Bears finished with one ace and 12 serving errors against the Bluejays.
Dupont led Washington U. with 12 kills, while Sheredy added 10. Byrne tallied eight kills to finish her career with 1,272, which ranks 12th on Washington University's all-time career leaderboard. Udenze added seven kills on 13 swings while hitting .385. Sophomore Cassie Wang recorded her 11th double-double of the season with 21 assists and 10 digs, while Zastrow finished with 13 assists. Freshman Kalehua Katagiri had a match-high 15 digs to finish ninth on Washington U.'s all-time single-season digs leaderboard with 547 in her first collegiate season.
Bear Notebook: Washington U. is 94-18 (.839) all-time in 27 appearances in the NCAA Tournament … Elmhurst leads the all-time series against the Bears 9-7, and has won each of the past three meetings … Friday's match marked the third time the Bears and Bluejays have met in the NCAA Tournament, and Elmhurst holds a 2-1 advantage in those matches… The Bears were 4-7 against ranked teams this season … Sheredy finished the season with 1,096 attacks, which ranks eighth on Washington U.'s all-time single-season list … Byrne closed her career with 3,272 attacks, which ranks seventh on the Bears' all-time career leaderboard.