SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth volleyball team came from behind to go up two sets to one on Pacific (Ore.), but the Pirates fell short in the fifth set and the Boxers won 25-15, 13-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13. Whitworth falls to 5-9 overall and 1-6 in Northwest Conference play. Pacific improves to 6-9 overall, 5-2 in the NWC.
The Pirates started off the night with an ace by freshman Maddye Dinsmore. Whitworth built a lead on a kill by junior Abi Hedlund, but the Boxers used a Whitworth attack error to tie the game before taking the lead on another Pirate error. Pacific took a 5-4 lead and never looked back. The Bucs stopped a string of Boxer serves with a kill by freshman Nicole Leonard, but were unable to make a run of their own.
Whitworth came out strong in the second set, responding to the first set loss. In an almost mirror image of the first set, the Pirates came from behind to take a 3-2 lead and used an ace by junior Whitney Santos to build its lead. The Bucs let the Boxers within one point on two occasions in the middle of the set, but pulled away late in the set on a string of serves by Santos that included three more aces. Whitworth attacked well, hitting .323 for the set.
The third set started with four straight Pacific points before a kill by junior Jalana White got Whitworth on the board. The Boxers kept a lead on the Pirates, going up by as many as five points before a Nicole Leonard kill put the ball into the hands of the Bucs. Whitworth used a run that included kills by Leonard and an ace from Maddye Dinsmore to take a 14-10 lead, and it proved to be enough for the Pirates to go up two sets to one on the Boxers.
"We responded really well after set one and put two of our best sets together all season at the net, the back row and the service line," Whitworth head coach Steve Rupe said.
In a close fourth set, which included 11 ties and five lead changes, both teams came out fighting. Neither team was able to get more than a three-point lead before the other found a way to tie the score. In a race to the finish, Pacific took advantage of a Whitworth attack error to put the Boxers ahead of the Pirates. Despite a kill from Jalana White to put the score at 23-25 in Pacific's favor, Mariah McHolland came up with a kill to end the set.
In a fifth set that was plagued by attack errors, the Pirates found themselves down 3-8, but they did not quit. A kill by Jalana Whitw gave Whitworth some energy. The Bucs came up with big plays and fed off of the crowd's enthusiasm to string together a run of four points on kills by Jalana White and Abi Hedlund to get the score to 12-14 in favor of the Boxers. An attack error by Mariah McHolland pulled the Bucs within one, but McHolland came back with a kill to score the match point and seal the victory for Pacific.
"We had a good mindset going into set five," Rupe said. "We just couldn't make the plays we needed to early and 3-8 is a tough hole to dig out of. I think we saw some of what we had at the beginning of the year as we made a great effort to come back."
Nicole Leonard had a game-high 20 kills and 12 digs to lead the Pirates. Jalana White had 14 kills, a solo block and a block assist. Maddye Dinsmore had 45 assists, 21 digs and three aces for the Bucs while Whitney Santos had 15 digs and four aces. Junior Briauna Stadeli had two solo blocks on the night.
Pacific was led by Marie Rewick, who had 19 kills, 11 digs and an ace. Mariah McHolland had 11 kills, two solo blocks and two block assists for the Boxers, while Alexa Block finished the night with 14 kills and 11 digs. The Boxers had nine team blocks to the Pirates' six.
Whitworth returns to action tomorrow night, hosting Linfield College at 7:00 pm PDT in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.