Bears sweep weekend match
The point could have been any one of the 75 scored in a 3-0 victory over Concordia University on Friday’s senior night.
Seniors Alli Alberts, Ali Crouch, Audra Janak and Nikki Morrison of Washington University’s No. 4 volleyball team all contributed to the play. A dig by Alberts, a set by Janak, a fake by Morrison and a spike by Crouch gave WU a 1-0 lead in the third set. “It meant a lot for us to be on the court at the same time,” Crouch said.
In their time at Wash. U., the seniors have helped capture the 2006 UAA and the 2007 NCAA Division III national championship, a feat they will try to accomplish once more in their final season in uniform.
“It’s weird to think the season is almost over,” junior Erin Albers said. “We all love the seniors.”
Morrison and Crouch ran wild against Concordia University, recording 15 and a career tying high of 13 kills respectively as Wash. U. won in straight sets (25-13, 25-21 and 25-15). Janak led with 43 assists and Alberts had a team high of 11 digs. “All the seniors played exceptionally well and gave a little extra,” freshman Erin Kasson said.
Concordia had a 21-19 lead in the second set before a kill by Janak off an Alberts assist and another kill by Crouch knotted the score at 21. Janak and sophomore Nicole Penwill had back to back block assists, freshman Tricia Brandt sent in a service ace and Crouch clinched the set with kill.
Sophomore Zach Streit, who was dressed as a penguin for a Halloween party, did pushups for every kill Crouch made on Friday. “No words to express it,” Crouch said. “I love Zach.”
Prior to the Culver-Stockton College match, the seniors were presented with gifts from their coaches and younger teammates. It was Albers and Kasson who tore up the court against Culver-Stockton, as the Bears mauled the Wildcats with a 25-19, 25-19, 25-14 lashing. Middle hitters Albers and Kasson had 12 and 10 kills respectively.
Monmouth College nearly pulled off an upset Saturday morning. After the Bears demolished the unranked Scots 25-11 and 25-14, the Fighting Scots held on to early leads to defeat the Bears 25-21 and 25-23, forcing a fifth set.
“Wash. U. made some uncharacteristic errors, and we didn’t,” Monmouth Head Coach Kari Shimmin said.
The freshmen duo of outside hitter Kristen Thomas and setter Lauren Budde connected four times in the decisive 15- 9 fifth set. Thomas’ career high of 18 kills propelled the Bears to victory. “It shows that we can’t let up,” Morrison said.
Wash. U. turned up the pressure against Millikin University, opening up with a 25-13 win. Morrison, Albers, Crouch, Alberts and Kasson all had seven or more kills in the definitive victory. Alberts led the offense and defense with team highs of 10 kills and 17 digs as the Bears took the second and third sets 25-19 and 25-14.
Morrison, Albers and Kasson were named to the All Tournament Team. Morrison led the Bears with 35 kills this weekend while Albers and Kasson both recorded 34 kills. The three hitters accounted for more than 50 percent of the Bear’s 200 kills this weekend.
The Bears are the No. 2 seed in the University Athletic Association championships after falling to No.2 Emory University. Wash. U. takes on No. 3 seed Carnegie Mellon University, No. 6 Case Western Reserve University, and No. 7 New York University this weekend. The conference finals will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Field House on Saturday with the winner receiving an automatic postseason bid.
“Now’s the time we step up and play hard,” Brandt said. “Hopefully we’ll have lots of fans and kick butt.”