SPOKANE, Wash. – For the second night in a row, the Whitworth volleyball team played five sets, but this time the game would end in the Pirates favor as they defeated Linfield College 25-14, 22-25, 20-25, 25-22, 16-14. Whitworth improves to 6-9 on the season, 2-6 in Northwest Conference play, while Linfield falls to 7-9 overall, 2-6 in the NWC.
"With our starting unit out there now, it is good to play a lot of sets," Whitworth head coach Steve Rupe said. "We have a lot of catching up to do. Everyone else is in mid-season form and we are just starting to gel."
Whitworth jumped out early on the Wildcats, building a 6-2 lead. The Pirates were dominant in the first set, hitting .212 and using the Wildcats' -.027 hitting percentage to their advantage. Every time Linfield came up with a play to stop a Whitworth run, the Bucs responded. Freshmen Maddye Dinsmore and Nicole Leonard each had an ace in the first set.
The second and third sets were not as kind to the Pirates, though both were close sets. The Wildcats responded to their first set loss and negative hitting percentage by hitting .129 in the second set and .128 in the third set and forcing 10 Pirate hitting errors in the second set and eight in the third.
Junior Abi Hedlund had a big fourth set for the Bucs, with three kills, six digs and a block assist. Hedlund's kills came during runs that either tied the score, or put Whitworth ahead of Linfield.
"Abi (Hedlund) had a very strong match and came up big when we needed it," Rupe said.
In a fifth set was reminiscent of last night's game against Pacific (Ore.), the Pirates again found themselves down early, this time 2-6, but Whitworth used two blocks from junior Briauna Stadeli to close the game and make the game 6-7 in favor of the Wildcats. An ace by Maddye Dinsmore tied the game and Whitworth used the crowd's energy as momentum. Every time Linfield pulled back ahead, Whitworth came up with another big play to tie the score. The Pirates were finally able to pull ahead on a Linfield error, and the Bucs used it their advantage. Linfield tied the game again at 14-all, but the Wildcats committed back-to-back errors that led to a Pirate victory.
"It was great to see us come out very strong in the first set tonight," Rupe said. "We showed a lot of heart in the 4th and 5th sets. We made some nice defensive plays that translated to some nice swings."
Junior Jalana White led the Pirates with a game-high 20 kills, 16 digs and two solo blocks. Nicole Leonard and Abi Hedlund each finished with nine kills for Whitworth. Junior Whitney Santos had 31 digs, while Maddye Dinsmore had 20.
Linfield was led by Kailana Ritte-Camara, who had 14 kills, 15 digs and 44 assists. Shayli Coppock and Leimomi Hookano each had nine kills for the Wildcats, while Courtney Wanamaker had 26 digs. Wanamaker and Courtney Uyeda each had two aces for Linfield.
Next up, Whitworth will host Pacific Lutheran University on October 12 at 7:00 pm PDT in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.