Volleyball captures two of three in first taste of conference play

Lily Wu | Contributing Reporter

The Washington University volleyball team beat No. 16 Carnegie Mellon University in four sets to kick off its first University Athletic Association round robin of the season Saturday in Pittsburgh, Pa.

After taking the marquee matchup of the weekend, the Bears steamrolled Brandeis University in three sets but fell in four to University of Chicago on Sunday to round off the 2-1 weekend.

Against Carnegie Mellon, Wash. U. accumulated 19 kills in the first set with only two errors for a blistering .486 attack percentage, more than two times their .213 season average. Although the teams alternated scoring for the majority of the set, the Bears were able to pull away to take the set, 25-19. With the score deadlocked at 6-6, Wash. U. scored three points in a row, jump-started by two kills by senior Rexi Sheredy. That run gave the team an advantage they would not relinquish for the remainder of the set.

Senior Caroline Dupont led another streak, spiking past Carnegie Mellon’s libero at 14-10. Senior Amanda Palucki followed that up by hitting into a gap in the opposition’s formation. Following a smooth serve-receive by Sheredy and an arching set from freshman Chloe Stile, sophomore Ifeoma Ufondu concluded the set with a swift tip.

The second set went to Carnegie Mellon, 19-25 thanks in part to seven attack errors form Wash. U. With the set knotted at 4-4, the Red and Green committed four consecutive errors to give the Tartans the window they needed to take the set. Both worked up 14 kills over the course of the set, but the Bears’ seven errors compared to the Tartans’ two proved to be the difference. A decisive spike ultimately handed the set to Carnegie Mellon.

In the penultimate set, the Bears were able to pull through, 25-17, despite a .097 kill percentage, by holding the Tartans to an abysmal -.176 mark of their own. In that set, Carnegie Mellon accumulated more errors (11) than kills (5). Wash. U. broke away from Carnegie Mellon in the fourth set, 25-13, to win the match, 3-1.

The match was the epitome of a team effort. On the offensive end, five players finished with double digit kills, including a game-high 15 from Sheredy. On the defense end, it was Sheredy again leading the team with 15 digs while three other players tallied in the double digits. This was Sheredy’s second time this season reaching 15 in both categories.

Freshman setter Chloe Stile recorded 50 total assists in the match, the second time this season she’s hit the half-century mark.

With the two wins and a loss, the Bears settle in at 12-7 on the season. After starting the season 5-5, the Bears have now won seven of their last nine including three wins against ranked opponents.

“[We] still have a lot to work on both technically and mentally,” Sheredy said.

With another University Athletic Association round robin on tap at Brandeis University in two weeks, head coach Vanessa Walby expects her team to be ready.

“Everything in conference will always be tough,” Walby said. “We need to compete every time we step on the floor.”

Looming at the back end of that weekend is longtime conference rival No. 7 Emory University. The Bears played the Eagles to five sets in both their meetings last season, dropping the round robin match before securing the conference championship.

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