No. 8 Volleyball Finishes on Both Sides of Fifth Set Decisions

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

Oshkosh, Wis., September 8, 2017 – The No. 8-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team finished Friday evening's doubleheader with a win and a loss, defeating tournament host University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh 3-2 in the nightcap after falling to Saint Mary's University of Minnesota 3-2 in the afternoon at the Kolf Sports Center.

The Bears maintained a .500 winning percentage with Friday's split decision and currently stand at 3-3 heading into Saturday's action against Lawrence University and St. Norbert's College. Both of WashU's matches went to the maximum fifth set as the Red & Green fell to Saint Mary's 25-20, 21-25, 25-16, 24-26 and 13-15 before responding with a victory over the Titans 13-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18 and 15-13.

Match 1: Saint Mary's 3 – WashU 2 (25-20, 21-25, 25-16, 24-26 and 13-15)

Several statistical categories favored the Bears including kills (68-56), hitting percentage (.264-.234), assists (61-52), digs (77-70) and total blocks (11-9) but errors plagued WashU. The Red & Green committed 25 attacking errors compared the Cardinals 19, and 14 receiving errors to eight by Saint Mary's.

Junior Ifeoma Ufondu set a career-high with 20 kills in the match while junior Julianne Malek (13) and sophomore Abby Selcho (11) also exceeded double figure totals. The Bears' offense also featured three members to exceed double figures in assists including freshman Alison Almgren-Bell (28), sophomore Chloe Stile (16) and freshman Kirby Knapp (12). Sophomore Hannah Turner also excelled on the attack, turning nine attacks into seven kills for a .778 hitting percentage.

Defensively, the Bears' sophomore Zoe Baxter (17) and senior Lauren Fournier (11) led the team in digs while sophomore Leila King contributed three block assists.

Saint Mary's improved to 4-2 with the victory while WashU fell to 2-3 before the comeback victory over Oshkosh evened its record at 3-3.

Match 2: WashU 3 – Oshkosh 2 (13-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18 and 15-13)

The Titans dominated their home court in the opening set running away with a quick 25-13 win, but the Bears battled back in the second.

After a point put Oshkosh ahead 11-6, WashU's head coach Vanessa Walby called a timeout. The Bears responded by scoring three straight points, and 13 of the next 16 points in route winning the set 25-19.

The Bears and Titans were neck-in-neck in the third set as WashU held a 21-20 advantage late. However, Oshkosh scored the next three points before claiming the third set 25-22.

WashU never trailed in the fourth set as it sprinted ahead with a six-point run early on to take a 10-3 lead. The Titans mounted two rallies but never pulled within five points. The Bears captured the fourth set 25-18 to force a fifth set for the third time this season.

The Red & Green momentum carried into the decisive set as WashU pulled ahead 5-2 but a Titans timeout led to four straight points and a 6-5 Oshkosh lead. The Bears responded with six of the next seven points before a service error on the Titans ended the set 15-13 in WashU's favor.

King (13) and Malek (12) led the Bears in kills, as Malek has reached double figures in kills in all six WashU matches this season. Almgren-Bell finished the second match with 40 assists as the Bears also totaled 10 service aces, including three by Malek. 

Defensively the Bears were led by Baxter with 12 digs and King's five block assists. Baxter has reached double figure dig totals in 19 consecutive matches dating back to 2016.

WashU will return to action at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning against Lawrence University, who finished day one of the Pizza Hut Classic 0-2 with losses to Martin Luther College and University of Wisconsin-Stout. The Bears match will be broadcast live HERE. WashU concludes its part in the tournament in a match against St. Norbert College at 1:30 p.m. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.