No. 4 Washington U. Celebrates Senior Night with Two Sweeps


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ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The No. 4 Washington University volleyball team opened play in the 2008 Bears Classic Tournament with a pair of sweeps over Concordia University (Ill.) and Culver-Stockton College at the WU Field House in St. Louis, Mo., on Friday night.

Prior to the win over Culver-Stockton, Washington University honored its four seniors who are winding down their careers on the Danforth Campus: outside hitter Alli Alberts, outside hitter Ali Crouch, setter Audra Janak, and right side Nikki Morrison. In their four years together at Washington U., the Bears have posted an overall record of 130-15 (.897), won the 2006 University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship, made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament, and won the 2007 NCAA Division III national championship.

The Washington University middle hitters, junior Erin Albers and freshman Erin Kasson, ran wild in the win over Culver-Stockton, combining to tally 22 of the team's 42 kills to hit .688 as a tandem. Neither player recorded an error in the match. Albers led the team with 12 kills to hit .706, while Kasson was 10-of-15 attacking, for a percentage of .667.

The Bears' hit .391 as a team in the three-set victory. Janak had 34 assists, eight digs and five kills in the win. Junior libero Laura Brazeal led the team with 12 digs, and Alberts also finished in double-digits in digs with 10, also tallying six kills.

Earlier in the evening the Bears swept Concordia behind a pair of strong performances by Morrison and Crouch. Morrison could do no wrong in the match, as it seemed nearly every ball she touched dropped in for a score. She notched 15 kills on 22 attacks with no errors for a stellar hitting percentage of .682. Crouch matched her career high in kills of 13 for the second time in three matches, hitting .550 in the win.

The Bears cruised to a 12-point win in the first set, but had some difficulty in the second frame. Washington U. led early on but experienced some difficulty passing from the back row as the match moved along, and the Cougars came-from-behind to stake claim to a 21-19 lead. But once Concordia was up by two, they would not score again and the Red and Green ended the set on a 6-0 scoring run.
A kill from Janak on a quick setter dump with a strong pass from Alberts on a service reception followed by a kill from Crouch knotted the score at 21-21. The Bears continued their run with back-to-back block assists by Janak and freshman middle hitter Nicole Penwill, which squashed the Concordia momentum and clinched the win for WU.

Trailing 9-7 in the third set, Washington University once again used the block to turn the match to their favor, scoring four-consecutive points via block en route to a 25-15 win. The Red and Green hit .420 as a team and recorded nine team blocks. Alberts hit .500 in the win with eight kills, and she also led the squad with 11 digs. With the offense clicking, Janak tallied 43 assists, an average of 14.3 per set.

Washington U. (24-6) will conclude both the Bears Classic its regular season slate of matches on Saturday, Nov. 1, at the WU Field House in St. Louis, Mo. The Bears will face Monmouth College at 10 a.m., and Millikin University at 2:30 p.m.

Artticle courtesy of Washington-St. Louis athletics.

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