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Nationally Ranked Bears Oust Titans

Renee Rush had five kills and five digs against the nationally ranked Bears.
Renee Rush had five kills and five digs against the nationally ranked Bears.

The UW-Oshkosh women's volleyball team's late leads in the final two sets did not hold up as nationally ranked Washington University in St. Louis came back for a 3-0 home victory over the Titans on Friday (Oct. 5) in St. Louis, Mo.

Washington University (13-4), ranked 11th in the NCAA Division III by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), overcame deficits of 26-25 in the second set and 23-22 during the third. The 10-time national champion Bears pulled out the three-set win over the Titans in scores of 25-14, 28-26, 25-23.

UW-Oshkosh (9-10), playing its third straight match against a nationally ranked opponent, fell to 1-4 this season against teams ranked in the AVCA's top 25.

Washington University's Ifeoma Ufondu led all players with 14 kills. Julianne Malek added 11 kills and six blocks for the Bears, who also received a match-high 33 assists from Kirby Knapp and 16 digs from Zoe Baxter.

Carly Lemke and Renee Rush paced UW-Oshkosh with five kills apiece. Emma Kiekhofer and Rebecca Doughty had 11 and 10 assists, respectively, for the Titans while Rachel Gardner collected a team-leading seven digs.

The teams combined for 41 attack errors and 19 service errors, including 21 on the attack and 10 behind the service line by Washington University.

Washington University held advantages in kills (40-25), hitting percentage (.198 to .053), assists (36-24), service aces (6-5), digs (42-30). Both teams registered eight blocks.

The Bears scored the first three points of the match and did not trail until early in the second set as Washington University collected 14 kills and hit .417 in the opening frame. Washington University extended its lead to 13-5 and maintained a lead of at least seven points for the remainder of the opening set.

UW-Oshkosh took its first lead on a combination block from Taylor Allen and Samantha Jaeke for a 1-0 lead in the second set that featured 14 ties and seven lead changes. The Titans reclaimed a 12-9 edge following a Bears attack error, a Gardner service ace and a kill by Shelby Coron on consecutive points. Back-to-back Washington University errors provided UW-Oshkosh a 15-13 advantage it did not relinquish until the Bears claimed a 23-22 lead. The Titans had three set-points at 24-23, 25-24 and 26-25, but the Bears rattled off the final three points of the frame on three straight UW-Oshkosh errors.

Washington University jumped out to a 16-9 lead in the third set before the Titans rattled off 14 of the next 20 points to claim a 23-22 edge. The 14-6 scoring run was highlighted by a pair of kills by Rush and one kill each from Allen, Jaeke and Kendall Enyart. The Bears knotted the score at 23 on a kill by Malek, took a one-point lead on a double-block from Ufondu and Leila King, and concluded the match on a Ufondu kill.

UW-Oshkosh concludes its trip to the Show Me State with matches against Augustana College (Ill.) and second-ranked Colorado College on Saturday (Oct. 6) in St. Louis.

Photo courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis Sports Information