Nov. 15, 2009

Courtesy of Washington (Mo.) Athletics

ST. LOUIS, Mo. –
The No. 4 Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team punched its ticket to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-23, 25-12) win over No. 8 Carthage College on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the WU Field House in St. Louis, Mo.

The Bears had three student-athletes named to the 2009 NCAA Central Regional All-Tournament team: freshman libero Kelly Pang, Honolulu, Hawaii (Iolani School), sophomore middle hitter Lauren Budde, Bartelso, Ill. (Central Community) and freshman setter Marilee Fisher, Mountain View, Calif. (Mountain View), who was named the Central Region Most Outstanding Player.

Fisher leads NCAA Division III in assists per set and she completed the regional tournament with 128 assists, an average of 11.64 per set, in addition to 17 kills, 23 digs and eight total blocks. Pang led the Bears with 60 digs, an average of 5.45 per set, and she broke the Washington University single-season dig record in Friday night’s win against St. Mary’s University. Budde paced the WU offense with a team-high 47 kills, averaging 4.27 per set, and she was also second on the team in digs with 42 and tied for second in total blocks with eight.

"The key tonight was that we had a bunch of heroes,” head coach Rich Luenemann said. “Marya Kaminski was a monster matchup on the right side, Kristen Thomas and Drew Hargrave came on strong on the left side. Our ball control was impeccable, our passing and serve receive was great and we served tough, taking them out of system many times with our serves.”

Washington U. (31-4) improves to 82-14 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and the Bears advance to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals for the 20th time in school history and the first since 2007. It is the second time that Washington U. defeated Carthage College in the regional championship match, with the Bears earning a 3-1 win over the Lady Reds in Kenosha, Wis., in 2007. Carthage (33-6) was playing in its third-straight regional final, but the Lady Reds are 0-3 in those contests.

Washington University will play Colorado College in the NCAA quarterfinals on Thursday, Nov. 19, in University Heights, Ohio. John Carroll University and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission will host this year’s NCAA Division III Championship at the DeCarlo Varsity Center.

The opening set on Saturday night was a battle, as neither team ever led by more than two scores at any point during the frame and a 4-0 run for Washington University was the longest of the set. That scoring stretch came as the Bears were down by two points, 15-13, before the Red and Green recorded four-straight kills, one each from Budde and sophomore outside hitter Kristen Thomas, and two straight from junior Marya Kaminski. Kaminski was one of the Bears’ most important offensive weapons, finishing the match with a career-high 10 kills.

“We expected them to triple block our middle attackers, which they did early in the match and we said that means we have to establish the pin attacks,” Luenemann said. “The key was the effectiveness of the pin attackers, spreading the block out, so that then we could go back to the middle and attack from all over the court so there were no tendencies they could follow.”

Back and forth the set went as the Bears and Lady Reds traded blows before Washington University earned the first shot at set point when Budde hammered down a kill for a score after being denied twice, and Kaminski registered her fourth kill of the match. Back-to-back attack errors by the same two Bears resulted in the 13th tie of the set forcing Luenemann to call timeout.

After that break Budde sent a tipped attack over a triple block into the middle of the floor for a point, and Carthage’s Amanda Matusky soared an attack long on the next play to give WU a 26-24 victory. Budde finished the first set with seven kills, and Fisher had 16 assists.

As close as the first set was, the second frame was even more competitive featuring 16 ties and five lead changes, and once again Washington University managed to come away with points when it mattered most. The Bears hit.022 as a team in the second set, tallying just nine kills, but that was good enough as Carthage committed eight attacking errors, four serving errors and two ball handling errors.

Carthage led 21-19 when Thomas notched her sixth kill of the match, and the score was tied 22-22 on a kill from freshman Drew Hargrave. In crunch time the Bears again turned to Kaminski and she delivered with a thunderous kill down the line to give the Bears set point and Lauren Dembkowski had an attack error on the next point, providing the Bears what proved to be an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the match.

With Carthage back on its heels, Washington University put its foot on the gas in the third set and completed the sweep with a 13-point victory. The Bears had their best offensive set of the match; hitting .250 has a team with 12 kills to just three errors. Conversely, Carthage could never get its offense on track and hit a match-low .026 in the final set, tallying just seven team kills.

Budde led all players with 12 kills, and had her third-straight double-double of the NCAA Tournament, also tallying 18 digs. Senior middle hitter Erin Albers notched five kills, and her second kill of the match was No. 1,000 of her career, leaving her with 1,003 kills in four years on the Danforth Campus. Albers also made a huge impact defensively, leading her team with five total blocks, three solo efforts and two assists.

Fisher filled up the stat sheet with 34 assists, eight digs, two kills and two block and Pang recorded 23 digs, an average of 7.67 per set.