Defense Keys No. 12 Volleyball to Win Over Southwestern

Defense Keys No. 12 Volleyball to Win Over Southwestern

St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 5, 2014 – The No. 12-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team had four players record double-digit digs and finished with 11 team blocks to lift the Bears to a 19-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-20 win over Southwestern University Friday night in the WU/ASICS Invitational at the WU Field House.

Washington U. (6-1) concludes the 2014 WU/ASICS Invite with a pair of matches Saturday at the WU Field House. The Bears take on Wheaton College (Ill.) at 10:30 a.m., before facing No. 5 Wittenberg University at 12:30 p.m. Wittenberg defeated Wheaton 3-0 in the first match of the tournament.

Sophomore Kalehua Katagiri topped the 30-dig mark for the second time in her career, finishing with a season-high 32. Junior Cassie Wang recorded her third double-double of the season with 21 assists and 13 digs, while senior Lindsay Juriga added 15 assists and seven digs. Senior Lauren Yung also finished with double-digit digs for the Bears, tallying 10.

Junior Nkiru Udenze paced the Bears offensively with 12 kills. Junior Jackie Nelligan tallied 11 kills and no errors on 30 attacks (.367 attack percentage), and added five blocks. Sophomore Caroline Dupont finished with nine kills and a season-high six blocks, while sophomore Alex Sheredy added five kills, a career-high five blocks and 14 digs.

The Bears struggled offensively in the first set as Southwestern earned a 25-19 win to take a 1-0 lead in the match. The Pirates jumped out to a 7-3 lead to start the match. The Bears chipped away at the lead and a solo block by Nelligan tied the score at 8-8. Southwestern took advantage of four straight errors by Washington U. to spark a 13-3 run and build a 21-11 lead. A kill by junior Allison Zastrow and a block by Zastrow and Dupont after a big dig during the rally by Katagiri cut the lead to eight. The Pirates got a set-point opportunity at 24-15, but a serving error gave the Bears a side-out. A kill by Udenze and an ace by Sheredy cut Southwestern's lead to 24-18 and forced a Pirates timeout. Another kill by Udenze made it 24-19 before the Pirates finished the set with a kill by Kate Mitchell.

Katagiri took over in the second set, recording 15 digs in the set to help the Bears pick up their offensive pace. Dupont led off the set with a kill. After a serving error by the Bears, Zastrow got a kill to give WUSTL a side-out. A ball-handling error by the Pirates followed by a block by Zastrow and Dupont made it 4-1 in favor of the Bears. Washington U. extended its lead to 7-2 after a block by Sheredy and Nelligan, and an ace by Dupont, to force a Southwestern timeout. An ace by Juriga and four errors by Southwestern pushed Washington U.'s lead to 12-3. The Pirates got three straight points to cut the deficit to 14-8 and cause WUSTL to use a timeout. After the timeout, Udenze got back-to-back kills on a combo attack in the middle and a roll shot that found the deep corner of the floor. After a side-out by Southwestern, Dupont notched back-to-back kills, then teamed with Sheredy for a block to make it 19-9 in favor of Washington U. The Pirates cut into a 22-11 deficit with a 5-1 run, but a kill by freshman Emily Richardson after a great dig by Katagiri on a setter dump attempt gave the Bears set-point, and a ball-handling error on Southwestern gave WUSTL the 25-16 win.

In set three, the Bears scored six straight points, including three kills by Udenze and a block by Udenze and Dupont to jump out to a 6-2 lead. After Southwestern cut the lead to 7-5, kills by Dupont, Sheredy and a tip kill by Nelligan made it 10-5. The Pirates picked up their defensive intensity with a pair of blocks to spark a 5-0 run to tie the score at 10-10. After Southwestern took a 12-11 lead, the Bears went on a 6-2 run to regain a 17-14 advantage on a kill by Dupont after an overpass by the Pirates. The score remained tight and a kill by Abbie Robb cut Washington U.'s lead to 20-19. After an attacking error by the Pirates, Sheredy and Nelligan teamed up for a block, then each recorded a kill to give the Bears set-point. An attack by Southwestern hit the tape to end the set and give Washington U. the 25-19 win.

Washington U. scored the first six points of the fourth set, and built a 15-4 advantage after a kill by Nelligan. The Pirates stormed back, taking advantage of four errors by the Bears to score six unanswered points and make it 15-10. Nelligan got three kills to make it 18-11, but Southwestern used a 4-0 run to cut the Bears' lead to 18-15. Dupont recorded back-to-back kills and teamed with Udenze to make it 21-15 in favor of WUSTL. After a pair of points by the Pirates, Udenze got her 12th kill of the match and Zastrow and Dupont notched the 11th block of the night for the Bears to make it 23-17. After a tip by Zastrow gave the Bears a match-point opportunity, Robb got a kill to keep Southwestern alive. Nelligan finished off the match with a kill as the Bears won 25-20 in set four.

Bear Notebook: Washington U. leads the all-time series against Southwestern 7-0 … The two teams met for the first time since 2003 … The win for Washington U. was No. 1,145 in school history (1,145-239-6) … The Bears improved to 459-50 all-time at the WU Field House.