Volleyball: Ladies overcome slow start, breeze through to win title

| Sports Reporter

Freshman Marilee Fisher sets the ball in Friday’s contest against Elmhurst. Fisher had 52 assists in the Bears’ win, the first of their three victories this weekend at the Wash. U. Invitational. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

Freshman Marilee Fisher sets the ball in Friday’s contest against Elmhurst. Fisher had 52 assists in the Bears’ win, the first of their three victories this weekend at the Wash. U. Invitational. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

Even the best start out slowly sometimes.

The Washington University women’s volleyball team overcame something of a sluggish start to their weekend matches and won all three of their contests, taking the Washington University Invitational Tournament.

The Bears came out on Friday and defeated Elmhurst College in the opener (25-16, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19) and came back in the next game to quickly take care of Central College (25-22, 25-13, 25-16). The Red and Green capped off their undefeated weekend with a victory over the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on Saturday morning (25-12, 25-17, 25-17).

The game against Elmhurst provided a bit of an early challenge for the Bears. The first set began close before the Bears pulled away, and after dominating in the second set, the Bears dropped a lead midway through the third and lost a close one, 23-25.

After having dropped a set for the first time in nearly three weeks, the Bears returned the favor and came back from trailing early in the fourth, using a 7-1 run late in the set to put away Elmhurst, 25-19.

Senior co-captain Erin Albers and sophomore Lauren Budde had impressive games; both registered 17 kills while Budde also tallied 15 digs. Despite the win, the Bears left the game unhappy about how some things went.

“In the first game, we were not very energetic and we weren’t playing our hardest, which is not acceptable at this point of the season,” sophomore Tricia Brandt said.

The Bears took out their frustrations on their second opponent of the evening, making quick work of Central after a close first set. Albers capped off what was a stellar night for her with 14 more kills, while Marilee Fisher set 35 assists, giving her 87 for the evening after an excellent first match as well.

Saturday morning gave the Bears a chance to finish off the weekend strong, and they took advantage against UW-La Crosse. The Bears went on a run of 10 straight points to take the first set, and they took the lead early in the final two sets and never looked back. Budde had another strong game, with 14 kills and 16 digs, while the team also had a chance to get in some of the backups.

Yet despite the success, the team seemed to leave the weekend with a few worries.

“Two things—starting sluggishly and allowing our opponents to get runs—are big causes for concern,” head coach Rich Luenemann said.

Luenemann was also concerned with the absence of sophomore Erin Kasson, who was out for the weekend with an undisclosed illness and may not be able to play next weekend.

“She is an incredible player, and she is one of our missing pieces out there that we really need in the lineup,” he said.

They’ll especially want her for next weekend, when they head to New York for UAA Round Robin No. 2, where they’ll take on four teams—including No. 3 Emory.

“Emory, perhaps as much as anybody we play, gets really, really jacked up to play us. They get very emotionally involved to play us. We have to match their emotional intensity,” Luenemann said. “But we can’t just focus on Emory. We’ve got to focus on everybody.”

“We just have to perform under the pressure and play our best,” Brandt said.