Volleyball takes 2nd at UAAs

| Sports Reporter
Freshman Meg Buker sets the ball in the UAA championship match against Emory University on Nov. 7. Buker stepped in for the entire tournament as classmate Marilee Fisher injured her ankle during warm-ups on Nov. 6. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

Freshman Meg Buker sets the ball in the UAA championship match against Emory University on Nov. 7. Buker stepped in for the entire tournament as classmate Marilee Fisher injured her ankle during warm-ups on Nov. 6. (Matt Mitgang | Student Life)

The Washington University women’s volleyball team lost a match this past weekend for the first time in nearly a month and a half as it dropped the final match of the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship in a sweep to Emory University (25-18, 25-19, 25-21) in Chicago.

The loss, the team’s first since a loss to University of Missouri-St. Louis on Sept. 22, cost the Bears a UAA title and spoiled an otherwise stellar weekend of play in which the team swept Rochester University (25-15, 25-13, 25-23), Case Western Reserve University (25-17, 25-21, 25-14) and New York University (25-13, 25-17, 25-14).

“Certainly we played an incredibly motivated team, and we didn’t execute the skills very well,” head coach Rich Luenemann said.

The Bears hit a roadblock early on when freshman setter Marilee Fisher injured her ankle in warm-ups for the first match. Freshman Meg Buker took her place and averaged 29 assists per game for the tournament. Her strong play was a key part of the Bears’ success in their first three matches.

“You always have to go with that mentality of being prepared to go in,” Buker said. “I have a great team there to support me. That takes a lot of the pressure off because you know that you have five other girls who are going to take care of business and have your back.”

Against Rochester, sophomore Lauren Budde put on a tremendous showing, registering 16 kills to only one error while also tallying 12 digs. Budde put up a similar line in the following game against Case, with 13 kills and 12 digs.

On Saturday, the Bears came out strong again in their win against NYU. Senior co-captain Erin Albers picked up 13 kills to lead the team, which had one of its best offensive days of the season with a .390 hitting percentage.

So after three strong performances to begin the weekend, what happened against Emory?

“Really we just kind of got frazzled in that last game, it was just mental mistakes, mental errors,” sophomore Tricia Brandt said. “We had a few too many serve-outs.”

Certainly the Bears didn’t do themselves any favors against Emory, registering 20 errors. Their .150 hitting percentage was also one of their lowest outputs of the season.

“For whatever reason, that was probably not our usual self out there,” Buker said. “And we seemed to have a hard time getting the momentum back or maintaining it in the first place.”

Despite the loss, the Bears seemed content with how the weekend went. “We really played well and Meg really stepped up under the pressure and she just did a great job,” Brandt said. “We had a really strong tournament in all of our games, except this last one.”

With Wash. U. being picked as regional site for the NCAA tournament, which starts next weekend, the Bears have a great chance to put this loss behind them. Given that the team that has finished second in the UAA Tournament has won the national title each of the last two years, the team certainly isn’t put off by this one loss.

“When we got together at the end, I just said, ‘I want everybody to take two minutes and give yourself a little kick in the butt and evaluate what you could have done better,’ and certainly we’ll focus on that,” Luenemann said.

With additional reporting by Hannah Lustman