No. 11 Bears Conclude Invite 3-0 After Exhilarating Top-5 Win

Photo by Sid Hastings/WUSTL Photos
Photo by Sid Hastings/WUSTL Photos

St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 6, 2018 – The No. 11 Washington University in St. Louis volleyball team swept University of Wisconsin-Platteville in its opening match Saturday before engaging in a tightly contested Top-25 showdown against No. 2 Colorado College, pulling out a 3-2 victory over the Tigers to finish a perfect 3-0 in the WashU Invitational.

Seniors Julianne Malek and Ifeoma Ufondu as well as junior Leila King and sophomore Kirby Knapp were named to the All-Tournament team for their efforts. Joining the Bears were Colorado College's Lizzy Counts and Margo Speathling, in addition to University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh's Carly Lemke and Augustana's Sierra Erke.

Malek and Ufondu both reached double figure totals in kills during the matches, combining for 51 kills which was more than half of WashU's total as a team. King had a dominant finish in the match against Colorado College and finished with a career-high 12 blocks, one shy of tying the Bears all-time record. The Red & Green finished with 19 blocks against the Tigers.

The Bears and Tigers were locked in at two sets apiece and the score tied at 8-all in the decisive fifth set. Ufondu sparked a run for the Bears with a rapid strike of the ball to give WashU a 9-8 lead.

King followed with a kill of her own before converting the next three WashU points on blocks. She put the Bears ahead 14-10 with a kill two plays prior to the match clinching hit by Malek. WashU improved to 5-3 against Top-25 opponents with the win.

WashU is 15-4 after the pair of victories overall, while UW-Platteville ended the weekend 7-14. Colorado College went 3-1 at the WashU Invitational, and exits with a 20-2 overall mark.

Match 1: WashU 3 – Platteville 0

Set 1: WashU 25 – Platteville 14

Malek was flawless in the first set, converting all five of her attacks for points as WashU quickly took the set from the Pioneers. King was three-of-four in kills attempted while junior Zoe Baxter recorded five digs in the set. The Bears posted a .519 hitting percentage in the first set.

Set 2: WashU 25 – Platteville 14

Ufondu led the way in the second set that duplicated the first set score of 25-14. She tallied five kills, while Knapp recorded 11 digs.

Set 3: WashU 25 – Platteville 20

Malek returned as the focus of the attack in the third set, leading WashU with four kills on five attempts. The Pioneers evened the score at 18-18 but the Bears returned to form and closed out the match by scoring their final seven points. Ufondu had the final two kills as the Bears produced a robust .458 hitting percentage to close the match out.

WashU's .392 hitting percentage was a season-high. Malek and Ufondu both had 10 kills, while Malek did so on just 13 attempts. Knapp tied a career-high 15 digs to lead the Bears while also totaling a team-high 19 assists. Freshman Samantha Kaiser tallied 16 assists.

Match 2: WashU 3 – Colorado College 2 BOX

Set 1: WashU 25 – CC 15

WashU's attack continued to be stellar as the momentum from the Platteville match carried over to the Tigers dismay. The Bears finished set one with a .519 hitting percentage, led by Malek's five kills. Ufondu and King combined for seven kills on 12 attempts and also produced a pair of block assists in the 25-15 first set win.

Set 2: WashU 25 – CC 22

The Tigers gained some momentum in the second set, but WashU ultimately took hold of a 2-0 match lead behind Malek and freshman Michaela Bach's play. The duo scored seven of the Bears 11 kills in the set, in addition to three block assists apiece.

CC took a 21-20 lead on a kill by All-Tournament selection Margo Speathling, but WashU retaliated with the next four points. The Tigers postponed the set with a point of their own before Bach ended it with a kill dished by Knapp.

Set 3: CC 25 – WashU 18

The Tigers held WashU to a match-low .054 hitting percentage. Speathling provided four kills to help CC seal its first set of the match.

Set 4: CC 25 – WashU 17

Despite the Bears hitting at a better rate in the fourth set, CC once again claimed the set behind All-Tournament setter Lizzy Counts. In addition to pacing the Tiger attack to a .257 clip, she added two kills herself.

Set 5: WashU 15 – CC 11

A total of five Bears recorded kills in the closing set, including two by King, Ufondu and Malek. King also added a pair of solo blocks to help close the match out in the Bears favor.

Up next: WashU will travel to Pittsburgh, Pa. for the second installment of University Athletic Association (UAA) play from Sat.-Sun., Oct. 13-14. Be sure to stay up to date on all your Bears scores and awards by following @WashUBears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.