SPOKANE, Wash. – Visiting Puget Sound rallied from two sets behind to defeat Whitworth 12-25, 19-25, 28-26, 25-23, 16-14 and take over sole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference volleyball standings on Friday night.
Both teams came into the contest riding seven-match winning streaks, but it was the Loggers who kept their streak alive. They improved to 10-3 overall and 5-0 in the NWC, while the Pirates dropped to 10-4, 4-1.
Whitworth rolled to wins in the first two sets. The Pirates hit a sizzling .486 as a team in the first set to overwhelm Puget Sound 25-12. Cassandra Mendoza had seven kills for the Bucs in that set. Whitworth then pulled away to win the second set 25-19, hitting .333 behind Lauren Budde's five kills.
The match turned in the third set. Whitworth ran out to a 7-2 lead and appeared on the way to a three-set sweep. But Puget Sound steadily fought back and went ahead 19-17 on a kill by Katie Rice. Whitworth retied the match 20-20 and went ahead 25-24 for match point. But Puget Sound held off the match point and won the set 28-26 on a kill by Shelby Kantner. Whitworth helped the Loggers build momentum in the third set by committing seven service errors.
Puget Sound went up 15-9 in the fourth frame after a block by Erika Smith and Rice. Still trailing 23-18, Whitworth closed to within 24-23 before a Pirate attack error sent the contest to a final set.
The visitors jumped to a 9-5 lead before Whitworth rallied with a 5-1 run to tie the set 10-10. The final frame was still tied 14-14 before Puget Sound ended the match with a kill by Kristen Lane and a block from Smith and Kantner.
Whitworth dominated the offensive statistics – hitting .246 and posting 76 kills. Mendoza led the way with 22 kills while Budde posted a career-high 15 kills. Emiko Kahler had 16 kills to give Whitworth three players in double figures. Erin White dished a career-high 62 assists and Taylor Wicht reached her career-high with 24 digs. While Whitworth had seven aces in the match the Pirates finished with 13 service errors.
Puget Sound had only one team block after the first two sets, but added three in the third and four more in both the fourth and fifth sets to finish with 12 blocks at the net. Rice led the Loggers with ten kills and was in on five blocks. Hannah Stinson had nine kills and was part of five blocks, while Smith led the way with one solo block and six block assists. Puget Sound hit .161 and finished with 52 kills.
Whitworth will host Pacific Lutheran on Saturday night in a match between teams currently tied for second place in the NWC standings. Puget Sound looks to complete a sweep of Eastern Washington with a match at Whitman.