Pirates Fall In NWC Opener

PARKLAND, Wash. – No. 20 Pacific Lutheran defeated thee Whitworth volleyball team 25-13, 25-19, 18-25, 25-20 in the first game of Northwest Conference play for both teams on Friday evening in Parkland. Whitworth falls to 4-4 overall and 0-1 in the NWC.  Pacific Lutheran improves to 7-2 overall, 1-0 in conference play.

The Pirates fell behind early in the first set, but kills by junior Kristine Kardell would break up serves by the Lutes and give the Pirates their first two points of the night. Junior Abi Hedlund had three kills in the set, but it would not be enough as sophomore Haley Urdahl and freshman Samantha North would combine for seven kills and Pacific Lutheran took the first set 13-25.

"PLU came out and played about as well as they could in the first set," Whitworth head coach Steve Rupe said. "I was curious how we would respond and was very happy with our effort."

The Bucs bounced back in the second set, jumping out to an early 8-4 lead, but were unable to put the Lutes away. In a set with seven ties and three lead changes, Pacific Lutheran pulled ahead at the end to take the set 25-19.

In the third set, PLU scored the first two points, but a string of serves by sophomore Katie Adams and junior Jalana White kept Whitworth ahead. Hitting .344 for the set, the Pirates held the Lutes to a hitting percentage of .000. Whitworth took the set 25-18 on a kill by Jalana White.

"Jalana really put the team on her shoulders in the third set and willed her team to a win," Rupe said. "Abi (Hedlund) was very smart with her attacks tonight and had some very timely kills."

 The fourth set was similar to the second set, with seven ties and three lead changes, and once again, it would not end in Whitworth's favor. Despite four kills from Abi Hedlund and three kills each from Jalana White and Nicole Leonard, Whitworth dropped the set 20-25.

Jalana White led the Pirates with 14 kills, 18 digs, five blocks and an ace.  Freshman Nicole Leonard had 26 digs and 10 kills while Kristine Kardell finished with 10 kills and three blocks.  Freshman Shawna Korshavn and junior Anna Buck split time in the setter position, and combined for 40 of Whitworth's 46 assists.

Whitworth returns to action Saturday, taking on Puget Sound at 5:00 pm PDT in Tacoma.

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