No. 4 Washington U. Wins Bears Classic with Sweep of Millikin


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ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The No. 4 Washington University volleyball team picked up a pair of victories on Saturday to win the 2008 Washington University Bears Classic tournament, held at the WU Field House in St. Louis, Mo.

Washington U. defeated Monmouth College, 3-2, on Saturday morning, and beat Millikin University in the tournament's championship match on Saturday afternoon. The Bears had four players named to the Bears Classic all-tournament team: junior middle hitter Erin Albers, freshman middle hitter Erin Kasson and senior right side Nikki Morrison.

Morrison led the team in the tournament with 35 kills, hitting .448. Washington University's pair of middle hitters, Albers and Kasson, combined for 68 of the team's 200 kills in the four matches, with 34 apiece. Kasson hit .526 over the weekend and also tallied seven total blocks, while Albers hit .459 with a team-high 13 blocks, an average of 1.18 per set.

Both Washington U. and Millikin were 3-0 in tournament play heading into their Saturday afternoon showdown, meaning the winner would be crowned as the Bears Classic champion. But the Bears picked up a sweep over the Big Blue to take the drama out of the meeting. Senior outside hitter Alli Alberts led Washington U. with 10 kills. Kasson was next on the team with nine kills and a .471 attack percentage, and Morrison converted 8-of-13 attacks to hit .615 in the win.

Senior setter Audra Janak recorded a double-double with 33 assists and 10 digs against Millikin, and junior Laura Brazeal led the Washington University defense with 15 digs.

It was Washington U.'s match with Monmouth earlier in the day that provided some excitement. The Bears jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match after picking up convincing 25-11 and 25-15 victories in the first two frames. However, the Bears faltered in the third and fourth sets to let Monmouth come-from-behind to force a deciding fifth set.

Freshman outside hitter Kristen Thomas powered the WU offense in the fifth frame, connecting with freshman setter Lauren Budde four times in the decisive set. Thomas finished the match with a career-high 18 kills and just a pair of errors to hit a team-high .552. Kasson and Albers also had strong matches against the Fighting Scots, tallying 12 kills apiece and hitting .550 and .455 respectively.

Alberts finished the match with a double-double, 10 kills and a team-high 17 digs, and freshmen Ali Hoffman and Tricia Brandt both recorded double-digit digs with 12 and 11.

Washington University (26-6) will now prepare for the 2008 University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship tournament, which will be held Friday-Saturday, Nov. 7-8, at the WU Athletic Complex in St. Louis, Mo. The Bears finished UAA round robin play with a 6-1 record, securing the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament.

The Bears will be matched with No. 3 seed Carnegie Mellon University, No. 6 Case Western Reserve University and No. 7 New York University in Pool B. The winners of the two pools will meet for the conference championship on Saturday, Nov. 8, in the WU Field House at 4:30 p.m.

Washington U. has won 18 UAA titles in school history, and last won the conference championship tournament in 2006. The Bears have matched up with 2008 No. 1 seed Emory University in each off the last four UAA Championship matches, with Emory picking up a 3-2 win over the Red and Green at the 2007 Championship in Rochester, N.Y.

Article courtesy of Washington St. Louis athletics.


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