Posts Tagged ‘Volleyball’

It’s never been better to be a Wash. U. fan

Saturday, November 21st, 2009 | Johann Qua Hiansen

With the women’s volleyball team capturing their tenth national title in program history and the fifth team national title in the past five years, it has never been better to be a Washington University sports fan.

Men’s cross country took seventh and women’s cross country took tenth at nationals. Women’s soccer advanced to the Final Four for the second time in school history.

When I stepped foot on the Danforth Campus, I had no idea that I would write for sports. I also had no idea I would go on numerous road trips to document the roller coaster of emotions caused by sports. In August of 2007, Wash. U had eight volleyball titles and four women’s basketball titles. Since then, the men’s basketball team captured two titles, men’s tennis picked up another and volleyball has come through with two. Add to that top ten finishes in a multitude of sports and Alex Beyer’s individual national title and Wash. U. is in a sports renaissance.

The sports section has reflected this with a core group of four reporters in the 2007-2008 school year, six reporters in the 2008-2009 school year and nine in the 2009-2010 school year.

Technology has also progressed with the Sports Information Department providing live streams of home games. Both the sports section (@studlifesports) and Wash. U. sports info run Twitter accounts while numerous schools have live stats available making it easier than ever to keep up with the progress of any team.

All that’s missing is the fan numbers. Community members, who had been at Wash. U. during the 1991-1996 Division III National Championship reign of the volleyball and the 1998-2001 Division III National Championship era of women’s basketball, recalled numerous occasions when the Field House was packed.

If you are a Wash. U. student or community member, come out and support the teams. They really appreciate the support and that’s what makes being a sports reporter very rewarding.

Who knows how far teams will go this year?

You can also follow the examples of three exceptional sets of fans. First of all, the parents of athletes are known to follow their children all over the country. A parent on the men’s soccer team runs a blog and a Twitter account that has helped keep Student Life up to date.

Another great group of fans are the men and women of the cross country and track and field teams who made the trip to Cleveland, Ohio despite not competing.

Finally, the men’s soccer team and other students traveled to Rockford, Ill. to support the women’s soccer team in the Elite Eight.  The group called the Conlon Crazies painted themselves in green and red while leading numerous spirited cheers.

Don’t knock Division III especially when your school boasts one of the most well rounded programs out there.

On another note, if anyone is travelling to San Antonio for the Women’s Final Four, my e-mail is [email protected].  The sports section wants to go. Do you?

The postseason

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 | Johann Qua Hiansen

The results speak for themselves and four Wash. U. teams have advanced to the next level in the NCAA tournament. Cleveland, Ohio plays host to three of those teams.

For the men’s and women’s cross country team, one race this Saturday will define their season’s worth of practices and races during rain and other harsh weather conditions.  The Bears have been rebounding from sickness and injuries. Hopefully, they’ll be able to have a good showing.

Women’s volleyball advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals with a 3-0 win over No. 8 Carthage College in the Regional Final. Last year, Ohio Northern spoiled the Lady Bear’s run to the title but with Ohio Northern and defending national champion Emory University already knocked out, this weekend will be interesting. After talking with players, there’s a sense of not looking beyond their next opponent and taking it one game at a time.  Colorado College pulled out the 3-2 win against the University of La Verne and will face the Bears on Thursday. The stage is set if Wash. U. and Hope College win on Thursday for a rematch. The Bears fell 3-1 to Hope in early September.

On the other side of the bracket, Wisconsin- Osh Kosh, Juniata College and Trinity (TX) which downed Emory, are all potential contenders in the championship game.

Women’s soccer advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in four years and face familiar foe Wheaton (Ill.) at Rockford, Ill.  Last year, the Thunder took down the Bears and ended their title run. With two  one goal overtime victories this weekend, Wash. U.’s offense is under pressure to produce quickly so that the defense can take charge through the rest of the game.

Good luck to all the teams this weekend. It’s going to be an exciting one.

Never seen anything like it

Friday, September 18th, 2009 | Johann Qua Hiansen

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.

Friday Musings

Friday, September 4th, 2009 | Johann Qua Hiansen

Two more volleyball matches this Friday evening with Wash. U. sweeping Webster University and Millikin University in straight sets.

The Bears suffered a few scares taking one match with the Gorloks to  23-23 before prevailing 25-23. Webster has greatly improved this year and seemed to have much better communication on the court.

Erin Kasson and Kristen Thomas continue to pace the attack for Wash. U. Both have such tremendous force and have been working on minimizing their errors.

Erin Albers had a great second match against Millikin with a 10 kill, .643 percentage.

Kasson’s jump serve continues to confound opponents though she had a three errors in the second match. When Kasson and Tricia Brandt are serving, the Bears seem to go on a run and get back within the game.

Wash. U. was down 12-17 against Millikin when Kasson started serving. But the Bears started hitting back and Millikin took a time out with the score 20-19 in Wash. U.’s favor. Brandt took over serving after the sideout and brought the score to 24-20.

Freshman Meg Buker did a fine job as setter against Webster with 31 assists and sophomore Lauren Budde has deftly received serves all day. Budde was a perfect 30 for 30 Friday. Laura Brazeal went 34 for 35.

Despite the many good things to be seen, there’s work to do. The team needs to continue working on their on court communication. Several times, players would bunch up together leaving open a gaping hole for opponents to exploit.

Tomorrow’s games should be more of the same as Coach Luenemann experiments with different lineups. This upcoming match against Ohio Northern should prove to be interesting given last year’s loss in the Regional Final.

Tuesday’s Tales

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 | Johann Qua Hiansen

Tuesdays are weird days to start a season. It’s a school night so many students are in their dorms finishing up homework. But three teams saw action tonight and I was able to catch various parts of their matches. These are my observations and opinions.

Women’s soccer– I started off the evening looking forward to an intense match against Illinois Wesleyan. I wasn’t disappointed as the Titans kept the ball on the Wash. U. side for the first 25 minutes. Despite that, the Bears came back and pressured the Titans. Wash. U. had an advantage of 8-4 in corner kicks.

Offensively, Wash. U. knows what to do. They just need to finish as there were several moments when a goal could have been scored. The Bears kept fighting and didn’t give up at the end.

Defensively, all the parts were there. But one lapse erases the previous shutout effort. Look to senior back Libby Held for some long range free kicks on goal. One shot from 50 yards out hit the top of the crossbar. One inch lower and it would have been a goal.  The defense also kept the pressure up so Illinois Wesleyan  didn’t have many quality shots on goal.

Volleyball– I missed the first match against Harris Stowe but I saw all of the Greenville match. There’s still some jitters to work out but the team looks good. Sophomores Kristen Thomas and Erin Kasson have really strong kills. Senior Vicki Blood seems comfortable at setter and the team in general is not giving up till the final whistle.

My first impressions of freshman Kelly Pang at libero are great. She’s everywhere, possesses great court awareness and I look forward to seeing what she and the freshmen class bring to the program.

Men’s Soccer– I caught the last ten minutes of regulation and both overtimes. Wash. U. fans voiced their outrage and felt robbed.

There was one moment in regulation where it appeared as if Wash. U. had scored to have the call overturned due to the head official failing to notice a protest by one of the linesmen.

This happened again in overtime on a beautiful play. From where I sat in the stands, it was impossible to tell if it was offsides but Wash. U.’s offense kept Illinois Wesleyan on their toes. John Smelcer did an amazing job in goal with a career tying high of 10 saves. Zach Hendrickson also has a great bicycle throw-in that sent fans to their feet. I also enjoyed seeing the WUSTL FC fans decked out in body paint and showing their pride.

Full stories will be in Friday’s issues. Again, please note these are my observations and opinions. Feel free to argue or agree. If you are visiting the site from outside the St. Louis area, take advantage of the streaming videos of various home games at

From the Sidelines

Thursday, August 27th, 2009 | Johann Qua Hiansen

With another school year, comes several new seasons. The action starts September 1st with Women’s and Men’s Soccer against Illinois Wesleyan while Volleyball takes on Harris-Stowe State University and Greenville College.

The Sports section continues experimenting with ways to provide the best coverage of Wash. U. athletics. We’re on Twitter @studlifesports.  We’re also figuring out the best way to use this blog.

One idea was to attend practices, share our observations and make our own predictions.

In the past week, I’ve seen small portions of the volleyball and women’s soccer practice. There’s a palpable air of excitement. Here are my observations:

Women’s soccer- The team looks to be in shape. Despite less than 10 days of practice, the team already has a team chemistry. The squad is taking things one at a time. Illinois Wesleyan will be a good test considering the penalty shootout in last year’s Regionals.

Volleyball- The Bears may have graduated three All-Americans but they look ready. Practice was spirited with an energy that’s tough to describe in words. It seems that the team has also developed the team mentality but only game time will tell. The big question is Who will emerge as the right-side attacker?

We would love to hear from you. Email the senior sports editor at [email protected] with your comments and concerns.