New York, N.Y., Oct. 4, 2015 – Junior Rexi Sheredy had a season-high 18 kills and 21 digs to lead a balanced offensive attack for the No. 2-ranked Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team as the Bears earned a 24-26, 25-23, 25-22, 25-19 win over No. 16 University of Chicago at the first University Athletic Association (UAA) Round Robin Sunday in New York.
WashU won its fifth straight match to improve to 17-1 overall and 3-0 in the UAA, while Chicago dropped to 14-5 and 2-1 in conference play. The Bears return to action to Wednesday when they host Greenville College at 7 p.m. at the WU Field House for the first of five matches next week.
The Bears got off to a slow start offensively against Chicago, but a 5-0 run that included two aces by freshman Natalie Stephanus gave WashU a 9-7 lead in the first set. The Maroons tied the score at 10-10, but another 5-1 run by the Bears quickly made it 14-11 in favor of WashU. The teams then traded runs to a 23-22 lead for Chicago that forced the Bears to call timeout. Sheredy got a kill to tie it after the timeout, but a kill by the Maroons gave them set-point. Junior Amanda Palucki put away a kill to tie it again at 24-24, but Chicago got back-to-back kills to take the first set 26-24.
Chicago gained an early 6-4 lead in the second set, but four straight kills by the Bears turned the deficit into an 8-6 advantage. The Maroons climbed to within one several times, but WashU extended the lead to 20-15 on a block by Palucki and senior Jackie Nelligan. Chicago answered with four straight points, before a 3-1 run gave WashU a 23-20 lead. The Maroons again found an answer, getting three straight kills to tie the score, but a serve sailed long to give WashU a 24-23 lead and an attack on set-point also sailed long as the Bears pulled even in the match.
The Bears started quickly in set three, building a 6-1 advantage on an ace by Sheredy. Chicago cut the Bears' lead to one on five different occasions during the set, but WashU found an answer each time. After a kill by the Maroons brought them to within 23-22, Nelligan answered with a kill and an attack by Chicago on set-point landed just wide.
The fourth set was even throughout, with neither team gaining more than a three-point advantage. A kill by Chicago made it 20-19 in favor of WashU, but the Bears got a sideout on a kill by Palucki. After a timeout by the Maroons, junior Caroline Dupont put away a quick kill and senior Nkiru Udenze tooled the block to make it 23-19 and force another timeout by Chicago. An attack by the Maroons landed long and Udenze ended the match with a kill as the Bears scored the final five points to with set four 25-19.
WashU hit .286 as a team (64-20-154) in the match, while Chicago finished with .245 attacking (52-15-151). The Bears' defense was a key to the win as they finished with 75 digs, compared with 64 for Chicago, and nine of the Maroons' 15 attack errors came on WashU blocks.
Sheredy paced the WashU attack with 18 kills, 21 digs and three blocks, while hitting .395 in the match. Dupont added 14 kills and three blocks, and Palucki chipped in with 10 kills and four blocks. Udenze notched her seventh double-double of the season with 11 kills and 18 digs, and senior Allison Zastrow also had a double-double with 55 assists and 11 digs to go with her four kills. Stephanus added a career-high 13 digs and two aces, and Nelligan totaled a season-best six blocks to go with her seven kills and two aces.
Bear Notebook: WashU improved to 5-1 against ranked opponents this season … The Bears are now 38-4 all-time against Chicago, and snapped a three-match losing skid to the Maroons … Chicago is just the third team this season to win the first set against WashU … It was the 50th time in Dupont's career she has recorded double-digit kills … Sheredy had double-digit digs for the 45th time in her career … In the Bears' three UAA matches over the weekend, Dupont finished with a .567 attacking percentage (39-5-60), while Sheredy hit .387 (34-5-75) and averaged a team-high 4.00 digs per set.