Nov. 14, 2010

Kenosha, Wis., - The No. 3 Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team continued its quest to win back-to-back national championships with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-19) victory over No. 14 University of Wisconsin-Platteville in the Kenosha, Wis., Regional Championship on Sunday, Nov. 14, at the Tarble Arena in Kenosha, Wis.

Washington University and UW-Platteville both entered Sunday's contest sporting identical 33-3 overall records, but the Bears' tournament experience prevailed in the three-set win. Washington U. was playing for a regional championship for a 24th-consecutive season, while Platteville had advanced to the regional final for the first time in school history.

Washington U. improves to 88-14 all-time in NCAA Tournament competition and advances to the NCAA quarterfinals for the 22nd time in school history. The Bears will face University Athletic Association (UAA) foe New York University in the NCAA quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 19, at the Washington University Field House in St. Louis, Mo., at 8 p.m.

The Bears and Pioneers were facing one another for the second time this season, with Washington University picking up a 3-1 victory in the initial meeting all the way back on Sept. 4. Platteville lost just twice more all season, and had not been defeated since a 3-2 setback against University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire on Oct. 1.

Washington University had three student-athletes named to the Kenosha Regional All-Tournament Team, freshman outside hitter Meghan Byrne, sophomore libero Kelly Pang and junior middle hitter Lauren Budde, who was named the region's Most Outstanding Player.

Budde had 11 kills, 12 digs and four blocks in the victory over Platteville, while Pang corralled 31 digs, eclipsing 30 digs for the third time this season, and Byrne hit an outstanding .478 with 12 kills and three aces, three digs and three blocks.

The Bears started strong in the first set, jumping out to a 4-1 lead, but the set hinged on a 5-0 Washington University run later in the action. Sophomore outside hitter Drew Hargrave adjusted to tip a shot around the block, giving the Bears at 13-9 lead, and following a Pioneer timeout tipped another ball for a kill to put her team ahead by five.

Hitting errors on consecutive plays from UW-Platteville's Briana Kaiser and Melissa Hillerbrand resulted in a 16-9 WUSTL advantage and the Bears went on to take the opening set, 25-16.

Washington U. appeared to be headed to an easy second-set victory before UW-Platteville rattled off five-consecutive points to cut a six-point deficit down to one. Hillerbrand and Kaiser each had a pair of kills during the Pioneers run that ended with the Bears leading just 19-18.

Following a Rich Luenemann timeout, Washington U. regained its advantage as freshman middle hitter Kaia Schwartz blocked down an attack from Platteville setter Ali Sikic. On the very next play, a difficult serve from Pang resulted in a Brooke Nichols overpass and Schwartz was there to push it down for a quick score.

The third set was the tightest of the match until the final six points, all of which were won by the Bears. Platteville overcame several small deficits to tie the final set at 19-19, but Washington U. won the next six points to clinch the sweep with Budde and Byrne fittingly blocking down a Kaiser attempt to end the match.

Freshman Tessa Blood finished the match with nine kills while hitting .333 and sophomore setter Marilee Fisher closed out another strong weekend with 37 assists, five digs and three kills in the regional final.