No. 2 Washington-St. Louis Sweep Two

9/5/2008

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Facing its toughest competition so far this season, the No. 2 Washington University volleyball team rose to the occasion to earn sweeps over No. 22 Central College (Iowa) and Birmingham Southern College on the first day of the Washington University/Asics National Invitational on Friday, Sept. 5, at the WU Field House in St. Louis, Mo.

Washington University struggled out of the gate against the Dutch, trailing 5-2 in the first set without any rhythm on offense. However, a strong string of serves from senior Alli Alberts enabled WU to take a 7-5 lead and the Bears never trailed again. Junior middle hitter Erin Albers and freshman defensive specialist Melissa Cochran played key roles in Washington U. pulling away for a 12-point first-set win. Albers ended the set with four kills on seven attack attempts, while Cochran, who started at the defensive rover position for the first time this season, made several athletic digs to keep Washington University rallies alive, tallying six digs in the first set, and nine in the match.

The Bears got off to fast starts in both the second and third-set victories. A spike from Alberts gave the Red and Green an 8-2 lead in the second set, prompting a Central timeout that failed to turn the momentum. The squads were even through the first 12 points of the final set, but a 5-0 Washington U. which ended with a kill from freshman Erin Kasson put the Bears in front for good.

Senior setter Audra Janak and Kasson each recorded six kills in the win; Janak also led the team with 19 assists. Junior libero Laura Brazeal reeled in a team-high 16 digs.
Facing an early deficit in the first set with Birmingham Southern, Washington University used a 7-1 scoring run, capped off with a block assist by Kasson and senior Nikki Morrison, to come-from-behind and take a 20-17 lead. The margin proved to be a large enough to secure a win, and the Bears recorded a season-high 19 kills on .545 hitting in the opening set, including five apiece from Albers and Morrison.

Washington U. found itself in familiar territory in set number two, trailing 11-7 before rallying to take the lead. After tying the match at 13-13, Albers recorded solo blocks on consecutive plays to put the Red and Green in front by two, 15-13, and force a Panther timeout. A solo block from Kasson later in the frame helped keep the pressure on Birmingham Southern and a tenacious WU defense powered a four-point win.

The Bears opened strong in the third set, jumping ahead 5-0 and never letting up to close out their second sweep of the night. WU recorded eight team blocks in the win, and Alberts and Brazeal tallied 18 and 11 digs respectively. Albers and Morrison tied for the team-lead in kills with 11 apiece, while Kasson was 8-of-11 attacking, for a hitting percentage of .636. As a team, Washington U. hit a season-best .366.

Washington U. (6-0) resumes play in the WU/Asics National Invitational Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 6, when it will face No. 11 Ohio Northern University in the WU Field House at 10 a.m. Washington University concludes tournament play with a match against No. 24 California Lutheran University on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.

Article courtesy of Washington-St. Louis athletics.

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