ELMHURST, Ill. – Washington (Mo.) picked up its 30th win of the season with a three-set victory against Mount St. Joseph in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Volleyball Championship on Friday.
The Bears defeated Mount St. Joseph 25-21, 25-17, 25-13, and will take on Chicago on Saturday in the Regional semifinal. Washington and Chicago split a pair of matches during the regular season, with Chicago winning in five sets Oct. 13 and the Bears winning in four sets in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship semifinal Nov. 2.
“Our play was not as smooth as we had hoped, but our serving was superlative and took Mount St. Joseph out of their offense a lot of the time,” head coach Rich Luenemann said. “It was a good start, 3-0 is always a good start.”
Washington and Mount St. Joseph played closely in the opening set before junior defensive specialist Tanya Marvi served five consecutive points to give the Bears a 15-7 lead. The run also included three kills by senior outside hitter Drew Hargrave. The Lions battled back to cut the Washington-St. Louis lead to 21-20 before three consecutive kills by junior outside hitter Meghan Byrne, Hargrave and freshman setter Allison Zastrow made it 24-20. After a block by the Lions, Hargrave hammered her sixth kill of the set to give the Bears the 25-21 win.
In the second set, the Bears jumped out to a 5-1 lead and stretched the advantage to six points (11-5) after a pair of kills by freshman middle hitter Jackie Nelligan and an ace serve by freshman right-side hitter Nkiru Udenze. Mount St. Joseph rallied within two points four more times in the set, but Byrne and Nelligan took over for the Bears down the stretch. They teamed up for a pair of blocks and Byrne pounded three kills late in the set, before Hargrave ended the second set with a kill to give the Bears a 25-17 win and a 2-0 advantage in the match.
Mount St. Joseph took a 4-1 lead early in the third set before Washington U. strung together four points in a row, including a pair of kills by Byrne, to take an 8-6 lead. After a Mount St. Joseph kill made it 11-8 in favor of the Bears, Washington U. scored five points on Marvi’s serves to stretch the lead to 16-8. The Bears maintained control the remainder of the match, and junior middle hitter Kaia Schwartz ended the match with a kill as Washington U. won the third set 25-13.
Washington U. hit .333 in the match (44-12-96) while Mount St. Joseph finished with .078 hitting (28-21-90). Byrne and Hargrave each tallied 12 kills to lead the Bears offensively, while junior middle hitter Emily Tulloch added eight and Nelligan finished with six kills and four blocks. Zastrow recorded a career-high 37 assists and senior libero Kelly Pang led the Bears defensively with 13 digs. Udenze, Marvi and senior setter Marilee Fisher each added seven digs.