Weekend Bear Sports

The No. 4 Washington University volleyball team dropped a dramatic five-game match (30-24, 24-30, 30-23, 28-30, 15-10) to eighth-ranked Emory University in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship match in Rochester, N.Y., on Saturday, Nov. 3. The meeting was the fourth-straight time the two schools have met in the UAA championship. Washington U. defeated Emory, 3-0, in 2006, but the Eagles won the UAA title in 2005. Both this season and in 2005, the loss to Emory in the championship was the Bears’ only defeat during conference play.

For weekend sports scores, go to BearSports

Emory took an early 12-7 in game one, but WU bounced back to knot the score at 14-14. However, the Bears would never regain the lead in the first frame, and the Eagles pulled away for the six-point win. Junior Nikki Morrison tallied six of her 12 kills during the game one loss.

The Bears ended game two on a 9-0 scoring run to secure a 30-24 win and tie the match at one game apiece. Trailing 24-21, WU tied the frame at 24-24 on a kill from junior setter Audra Janak, and following an Emory timeout, rattled off six more unanswered points, capped off by a Lindsay Schuessler service ace.

Emory regained momentum by taking game three, a frame that it led from start to finish. Trailing the match 2-1, WU responded by taking a hard-fought fourth game by a narrow two-point margin. The first half of game four was close until Washington U. went on a 6-1 run to build a 23-18 lead. Emory came all the way back to tie the game at 27, but sophomore libero Laura Brazeal and senior Ellen Bruegge recorded back-to-back kills to put the Bears up for good, forcing a deciding fifth game.

Washington U. never got its offense rolling in game five, committing four attack errors and tallying just five kills. Game five was tied midway through the frame, 7-7, but Emory ended the match on a 8-3 scoring run to win its second UAA title.

Junior Alli Alberts and senior Haleigh Spencer led a WU offense that hit just .235 in the title game, tallying 13 kills apiece. The two middle hitters, Bruegge and sophomore Erin Albers were a bright spot offensively, finishing the match with eight and 11 kills respectively, and hitting a combined .421. Janak had 54 assists, seven kills, and nine digs, and Brazeal registered a team-best 27 digs.

The Bears secured a berth in the championship game earlier in the day with a 3-0 (30-12, 30-26, 30-24) win over No. 4 seed Carnegie Mellon University. The Red and Green struggled in the teams’ first meeting of the season on Saturday, Sept. 29, in New York, N.Y., needing five games to beat the Tartans. WU could not contain CMU junior middle hitter Chisom Amaechi in that first match, as she tallied 15 kills; but Amaechi was held in check on Saturday, mustering just three kills.

An energetic Washington U. took the first game by 18 points. WU opened the match by quickly taking a 10-2 lead, which was eventually stretched to 18-6. Morrison was 4-of-4 attacking in the first frame.

The Bears stumbled a bit in game two. Cruising to a 2-0 advantage in the match, WU led the frame 21-11 before Carnegie Mellon began to swing the momentum to its favor. The Tartans got as close as three points, but the Bears’ early lead proved to be too much to overcome. Washington U. committed eight attack errors in the second game, and Alberts paced the offense with four kills.

With the Bears reeling a bit from the end of game two, Carnegie Mellon seized a 7-1 advantage early in the third game, thanks to three WU attack errors and a pair of reception errors. After head coach Rich Luenemann called a timeout, the Red and Green went on an 11-5 scoring run to tie the frame at 12-12, and the Bears took their first lead, 14-13, on a kill from Bruegge, one of her seven in the match.

Washington U. did not pull away until later in the game. With the score tied at 17, WU used an 8-3 scoring run to open up a 25-20 lead and put the game out of reach. Alberts led the Bears with 12 kills against the Tartans, also tallying 12 digs. Morrison had 10 kills in the win to go along with six total blocks. Janak set a team-high 30 assists and Brazeal finished the match with 22 digs.

The Bears (27-5, 10-1) will learn of their postseason fate on Sunday, Nov. 4, when the 2007 NCAA Championship bracket will be announced.