Nov. 13, 2010

Courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis

Kenosha, Wis.- The No. 3 Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team overcame a slow start and junior middle hitter Lauren Budde finished with 18 kills as the Bears picked up a 3-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-19, 25-11) victory over Wartburg College in the second round of the 2010 NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 13, at Tarble Arena on the campus of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis.

With the win, Washington University improves to 87-14 all-time in NCAA Tournament action and advances to the regional championship for the 24th-consecutive season.

The Bears improve to 9-0 all-time against Wartburg College and are now 4-0 against the Knights in postseason action. Washington U. was facing Wartburg in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003, which was also the last time Wartburg appeared in the NCAA Tournament.

Washington University overcame a rough offensive performance by capitalizing on several Wartburg mistakes late in the first set to erase a five-point deficit and come away with a 25-23 win.

The Bears trailed 22-17 when freshman outside hitter Meghan Byrne recorded an ace that began what turned into an 8-1 WUSTL run to end the frame. Wartburg still led 23-20 when setter Ramey Sieck was whistled for a double-hit, and Budde and sophomore outside hitter Drew Hargrave blocked down a Maddie Forstyh attack during the next rally to pull their team within one score.

Another Wartburg error, this time a bad attack by Britlyn Sieck tied the set at 23-23, and Byrne did the rest from there, serving two-straight aces to complete the comeback. Washington U. hit just .077 in the first set, with 14 kills and 11 errors; the Bears committed just three errors as a team in their opening round victory over Beloit on Friday.

The Bears offense failed to get on track in the second set and as a result Wartburg held on for a 25-22 win to tie the match at 1-1. Washington U. hit just .050 and once again trailed late in the frame. Like the first set, Washington U. came back, once behind 20-17 but tying the score at 21-21 on a back-row kill from Budde.

Another Ramey setting error resulted in a brief 22-21 WUSTL led, but Sieck and Kamille Van Natta strung together two-straight kills to put the Knights back in front.

The Bears were hitting better than .300 as they built a 13-9 lead midway through the third set, but Wartburg fought back and came back to knot the score at 15-15. Following a timeout from head coach Rich Luenemann, Washington University regained the momentum with a 3-0 run, and used a series of key blocks down the stretch to pick up a 25-19 third-set win. WUSTL had six team blocks through three sets, with two of those coming during the closing stretch of the third.

The fourth set was Washington University's strongest of the match, with the Bears hitting a match-best .250 with 18 kills. Freshman right side Tessa Blood notched four of her eight kills in the final set, and had three kills during the opening moments of the frame as Washington University built an 8-3 lead, and she scored again to make the WUSTL advantage, 16-9.

In addition to recorded a team-high 18 kills, Budde also tied for the team-lead with 17 digs, notching her second double-double of the postseason and hitting a team-high .342. Byrne was also in double figures with 13 kills, and added four aces to bring her two-match NCAA total to eight.

Sophomore setter Marilee Fisher represented the Bears' second double-double, with 48 assists and 12 digs, and sophomore libero Kelly Pang had 17 digs.

Washington University will face either No. 7 Carthage College or No. 14 University of Wisconsin-Platteville in the Kenosha, Wis., Regional Final on Sunday, Nov. 14, at 4 p.m.