Volleyball continues dominance, grabs UAA No. 1 seed

| Sports Reporter

The biggest regular-season hurdle for the Washington University women’s volleyball team has been jumped.

The team took all four of its matches this past weekend at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Round Robin No. 2 in New York City, putting them at a perfect 7-0 mark in conference play for the season and guaranteeing them the No. 1 seed for the UAA championship tournament in November.

“[Clinching the No. 1 seed is] just the first step. It feels good, but it’s not the big goal that we’re looking for,” senior co-captain Erin Albers said.

The first victory, on Saturday morning, was undoubtedly one of the team’s biggest wins of the season, taking out archrival Emory University, ranked No. 3 entering the match, in straight sets (25-19, 25-17, 25-18). The Bears followed the victory by defeating New York University (25-15, 21-25, 25-17, 25-19) later in the day.

“The UAA showed why it’s regarded as the top Division III volleyball conference in America,” head coach Rich Luenemann said. “Our easiest match during the weekend was against the number-three-ranked team in America.”

Sunday brought two more victories for the team, as the Bears defeated the University of Chicago in the morning (25-17, 25-23, 25-19) and finished out the weekend by grinding out a five-set win over Carnegie Mellon (22-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-21, 15-8).

Against Emory, the team put together its strongest effort of the season. The Bears dominated offensively, as Emory never came close to holding a lead late in any set. Sophomore Lauren Budde led the charge, registering 16 kills without having a single error.

The Bears put out another robust effort in their second contest of the day in their defeat of NYU. Albers led the offense this time around with 15 kills, while Budde and freshman Kelly Pang helped out on defense with 27 and 26 digs, respectively.

On Sunday, the team came out and made quick work of Chicago in three sets. While no player on the team registered more than nine kills, eight different players registered at least one. Freshman Marilee Fisher played a key part in setting up these kills, recording 28 assists.

The last match of the weekend proved to be the toughest for the Bears, needing all five sets to take out CMU. After being down two sets to one—losing two sets in which they committed 11 and 10 errors—the Bears’ offense led them to victories in the fourth and fifth set.

“I don’t pay that much attention to the stats, but that actually wasn’t one of our better games of the season,” Albers said.

The team has won 11 straight matches—16 in a row against Division III opposition—and has only dropped four sets in the process since Sept. 23.

With four regular-season home matches left, the team will try to extend their winning streak through Friday and Saturday, Oct. 30 and 31, with the Bears Classic II at the Wash. U. Field House. The Bears will face North Park University, Culver-Stockton College, Virginia Wesleyan College and Rhodes College. The team’s seniors will be recognized before the Culver-Stockton match at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

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