I’ve watched many volleyball matches. I’ve covered the last two seasons of Washington University volleyball and watched the Bears capture the 2007 national championship in 2007. Despite this, I’ve never seen a match go so far.
The scores say No. 7 Wash. U. swept No. 1 Juniata College on Sept. 17, 2009 ending a winless streak since 2005. Every set went into extra points. But Wash. U. held on and won (27-25,41-39, 28-26). The 41 points scored set a new Division III record for most points scored in a single set under the 25 point format. Each Wash. U. error was greeted with a groan as the Eagles caught break after break. In past performances this season, the Bears have taken it to the edge before dropping sets 26-24.
The last two Juniata games I saw were also Red Alert sponsored games with crowds in the 1,500 range. Both of those featured close sets with the Eagles eventually triumphing.
What was different this time?
Smaller crowd of 512 people due to Rosh Hashanah and the Balloon Glow.
Ball control- Wash. U. had 68 digs and 12 blocks (five solo, 14 assisted).
Motivation-At the beginning of the season, I talked with tri-captain senior Laura Brazeal who had told me this was one of the games she looked forward to because no one on the team had beaten Juniata before. Now they have. While it might not be a national championship, it could be a preview of a match down the line.
Everyone stepped up especially freshmen Marilee Fisher and Kelly Pang. Fisher had 44 assists and 8 kills. Both she and junior Marya Kaminski had .462 nights. Senior Erin Albers was explosive down the middle with a team high 15 kills.
In a story by Juniata’s Sports Information Department, Juniata head coach Larry Bock said “We were out-ball controlled, and that’s something uncharacteristic for Juniata volleyball.”
Wash. U. shows promise. Juniata beat UAA rival Emory last week. Wash. U. beat Juniata. We’ll see what happens Saturday but if the Bears keep their nerve in these tense moments, great things will come. They have fallen to Ohio Northern and Hope College earlier in the season.