SALEM, Ore. – The Whitworth University volleyball team won the third set to force extra sets, but Willamette University's .292 hitting percentage gave the Bearcats a 3-1 win (25-15, 25-11, 21-25, 25-14) over the Pirates on Saturday night. Willamette improves to 7-12 overall, and 5-7 in Northwest Conference play, while Whitworth falls to 7-12, 3-9 in conference play.
Willamette hit .344 in the first set, jumping out to a 3-0 lead before a kill from junior Abi Hedlund gave Whitworth its first point of the night. Hedlund's kill did not deter the Bearcats, as they followed it with back-to-back kills of their own. Hedlund again cut into Willamette's lead, this time with an ace, to make it 9-6, but the Pirates were unable to get any closer and the Bearcats built enough of a lead to take the set.
Whitworth rebounded in the second set, trading points with the Bearcats and taking a 5-4 lead on a ball handling error by Willamette before Shannon Waltz tied the score 5-5 with a kill that started a seven point run by the Bearcats. Freshman Nicole Leonard came up with a kill to stop Willamette's run, and junior Kristine Kardell followed with a kill of her own to cut the Bearcat lead to 12-8. Willamette came up with back-to-back blocks to re-establish its lead and put Whitworth away going into the break.
The third set started with the teams trading points and leads before sophomore Tori LaBrie's kill gave Whitworth a 12-11 lead for the fourth and final lead change. Whitworth kept a two-point lead over Willamette before a service ace from freshman Maddye Dinsmore put the Pirates up by three, 19-16. The Bucs continued to build a lead and took the set 25-21. Junior Jalana White had four kills while Dinsmore had three kills, four digs and two aces in the set. The Bucs hit .242 to match the Bearcats' .242 hitting percentage in the set.
Willamette started with a kill and cruised through the fourth set. A Bearcat attack error made the score 4-2 in Willamette's favor, but that was as close as Whitworth got in the set. The Bucs hit .086 while the Bearcats hit .294 in the set.
Jalana White led the Pirates with 12 kills and eight digs. Abi Hedlund finished with eight kills and an ace while Nicole Leonard had seven kills and a match-high 22 digs. Maddye Dinsmore had 14 digs and two aces for the Bucs.
Madisyn Leenstra led the Bearcats with 12 kills and 13 digs. Carly Hargrave had 10 kills for the Bearcats while Elisa Ahern had nine kills and 11 digs. Elizabeth Balding had 19 digs for Willamette. Balding, Shannon Waltz and Danica Reed each had two aces for the Bearcats.
Whitworth will host its final home games of the 2012 season next weekend when the Pirates host Lewis & Clark and George Fox. The Bucs take on the Pioneers at 7:00 p.m. on October 26th and then the Bruins at 4:00 p.m. on October 27th.