PITTSBURGH – Strong defense and a balanced attack helped No. 1 Washington-St. Louis earn a sweep against Carnegie Mellon (25-14, 25-18, 25-20) and a five-set win against No. 6 Emory (28-26, 25-22, 16-25, 23-25, 15-12) on the final day of the second University Athletic Association (UAA) Round Robin on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
In the first match of the day, the Bears jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the opening set behind six-straight points served by freshman right-side hitter/setter Allison Zastrow. Washington U. continued to pull away and a kill by junior outside hitter Meghan Byrne finished the set for the Bears 25-14.
Four ace-serves in the second set propelled the Bears to a 25-18 win, despite hitting .162 in the set. Washington U. led throughout the third set, but the Tartans cut the lead to 21-18, before back-to-back kills by freshman middle hitter Jackie Nelligan and freshman outside hitter Nkiru Udenze and an attacking error by Carnegie Mellon gave the Bears a 24-18 lead. The Tartans fought off two match-point opportunities for the Bears, before a kill by Udenze ended the match, 25-20.
Senior outside hitter Drew Hargrave had a team-high eight kills, while Nelligan and junior middle hitter Emily Tulloch tallied seven kills each. Zastrow finished with 32 assists and two aces. Senior libero Kelly Pang led the defense with 19 digs and also added three aces, while sophomore defensive specialist Lauren Yung recorded 11 digs.
After splitting the first four sets, Washington St.-Louis earned a 15-12 win in the fifth set to clinch the match victory against Emory by hitting .364 behind three kills each by Nelligan and Hargrave in the deciding set. The teams traded points through a tie at 11, before a kill by Hargrave and a solo block by Tulloch gave the Bears a 13-11 advantage and force Emory to take a timeout. The Eagles got a kill to cut the lead to 13-12, before back-to-back kills by Hargrave and junior right-side hitter Tessa Blood sealed the win for the Bears.
The teams played point for point to open the first set, before Emory’s 6-0 run to take an 18-11 lead. The Eagles maintained the seven-point lead 20-13, but Washington U. answered to make it 20-17. An error by the Bears gave Emory a 21-17 lead, before a five-point run by the Bears including three kills by Hargrave, gave Washington U. a 22-21 lead. The teams then traded points to a tie at 26-26 before kills by Byrne and Blood ended the set 28-26.
In the second set, Washington U. held a 10-8 lead before scoring six unanswered points, including a pair of kills by junior middle hitter Kaia Schwartz and an ace serve by junior defensive specialist Tanya Marvi. After a timeout by the Eagles, Emory rallied to cut the Bears’ lead to 16-13. Emory got as close as one point 23-22, but back-to-back kills by Hargrave gave the Bears a 25-22 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Emory’s offense took off in the third set, and the Eagles led to get a 25-16 win and pull to within 2-1 in the match. In the fourth set, the Eagles grabbed an 18-13 lead, before the Bears ran off four consecutive points, including a block by Blood, Schwartz and Hargrave, and a solo block and kill by Hargrave, to pull to within 17-18. The Eagles stretched their lead back to four 23-19, but Washington U. rallied to score four consecutive points on two kills by Byrne and two blocks by Nelligan to tie the score at 23. A ball-handling error on the Bears and a block by the Eagles gave Emory a 25-23 win to force a fifth set.
With the two wins, Washington U. (24-2, 6-1 UAA) finished in a tie for first place with Emory and Chicago in the UAA standings. Emory (22-4, 6-1 UAA) earned the No. 1 seed for the UAA Championship Tournament with a 5-3 record in sets against Washington U. and Chicago.