WashU Middles Shine in Volleyball's Opening Day Split

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

St. Louis, Mo., August 30, 2019 – The No. 14-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team opened its season with a dominant 3-0 victory over Fontbonne University before falling in a back-and-forth five setter to Hendrix College Friday evening in the WU Field House during the Bear Invitational.

The Bears begin the season with a 1-1 record, while Fontbonne dropped its first two matches and Hendrix captured a victory in its lone match of the night. WashU combined to hit .429 against the Griffins but that strong number plummeted to .229 against the Warriors.

WashU's middle hitters had tremendous performances as senior Leila King totaled 19 kills in 33 attempts and sophomore Caitlin Lorenz tallied 13 successful attacks in 27 tries. The duo also combined for 15 blocks.

WashU 3 – Fontbonne 0 (25-8, 25-12, 25-8)

The Bears held Fontbonne to a -.162 hitting percentage and 28 total points in the match. Sophomore Caitlin Lorenz led the team with five of the Bears seven blocks. Meanwhile WashU's attack compiled a .452 hitting percentage of its own.

Sophomore Michaela Bach finished with a match-high eight kills while a trio of Bears contributed five kills apiece. SeniorHannah Turner, junior Tricia Brown and freshman Alaina Bohrer combined for 15 kills.

Brown dominated the first set with four kills in seven attempts while senior Leila King and Turner converted on three of four swings. Senior Zoe Baxter sparked a six point run at the service line to put the Bears ahead by double figures. She had an ace while Brown capped the run with back-to-back kills for a 21-7 advantage. Junior Kirby Knapp sealed the set victory at 25-8 with a service ace.

Bach heated up in the second set and was a perfect four-for-four in attacks. Lorenz scored the final two points of the set with a kill and solo block for a 2-0 WashU lead.

The third set was close early on before a 14-1 Bear run nearly clinched the set. Sophomore Abby Li converted the final point on a feed from sophomore Samantha Kaiser. Kaiser led WashU with 12 assists. Baxter posted a team-high nine digs.

Hendrix 3 – WashU 2 (19-25, 25-19, 25-16, 22-25, 8-15)

The Bears' middles combined for nine blocks compared to Hendrix's five on the night as the two teams hitting percentages were held below .300. The Warriors edged the Bears with a .248 to .229 mark.

Hendrix built an early lead and maintained a multi-point advantage throughout most of the first set. Lorenz led the Bears attack in the first frame with four kills, but WashU was outhit in the set .481 to .154 as the team did not record a single block.

The Warriors again took an early lead in the second set but WashU charged back pulling even several times including a kill by King that knotted the score at 18-all. King's kill sparked an 8-1 run which evened the set at one game apiece. She recorded five kills in the set while Baxter and Knapp added five digs apiece.

WashU built a double digit gap in third set, 16-6, following back-to-back blocks by Brown, King and Turner. King and Lorenz had three block assists in the frame while King sealed the 2-1 Bears lead with a kill assisted by Knapp.

The Bears showed great grit in the fourth frame after falling behind 19-9. WashU went on an 11-3 run to pull within two points but the Warriors finished the set with three kills to send the match to a fifth and decisive set.

Hendrix continued its momentum in the fifth frame by scoring the first three points as WashU was only able to score back-to-back points twice.

WashU will return to action in the Bear Invitational on Saturday, August 31 at 12:30 p.m. against North Park before closing out the weekend with a match against Cornell. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.