TACOMA, Wash. – Emiko Kahler hammered 16 kills to lead visiting Whitworth to a 3-1 win at Puget Sound that could go a long way toward determining the 2016 Northwest Conference volleyball title.
The Pirates won 25-23, 14-25, 25-15, 25-17 to improve to 18-5 overall and 12-1 in the NWC. They avenged their only conference loss of the season, which came in five sets against the Loggers (14-7, 9-4) on September 30th in Spokane. Whitworth holds a two-game lead in the standings over Pacific Lutheran with three matches to play. The Pirates will play at PLU on Saturday night with a chance to clinch their third straight conference crown.
Kahler, a first-year OH, posted a double-double by also coming up with 11 digs. Sophomore RS Lauren Budde added a dozen kills and hit .321, while junior OH Cassandra Mendoza finished with 11 kills and a pair of service aces, giving the Pirates three players in double figures in kills. Sophomore setter Erin White totaled 49 assists and 16 digs to lead the Whitworth offense. The Bucs had 57 kills and hit .212 as a team.
Whitworth pulled out the first set after each team made strong runs. First the Pirates went ahead 7-2 on a kill by senior MB Haley Vick. But Puget Sound rallied with a 12-4 run, going ahead 14-11. Whitworth fought back to take a 22-20 lead after back-to-back kills by Budde and then won the set on a kill by Kahler.
The Loggers dominated the second set after jumping out to a quick 7-1 lead. They hit .433 with 13 kills and no errors in 30 total attacks. Meanwhile Whitworth hit .000 in the set with nine errors cancelling out nine kills.
The Pirates returned the favor with a runaway in the third set. Puget Sound was still within 13-10 when Whitworth closed on a 12-5 run. The Bucs hit .333 in the frame and won it on a kill by Kahler.
The Loggers took a quick 2-0 lead in the fourth set before Budde's kill gave Whitworth a 4-3 lead. The Pirates would not trail again. Puget Sound was still within 16-13 after a block by Rita Dexter. But the Pirates dominated down the home stretch, outscoring their hosts 9-4 the rest of the way.
Hannah Stinson led the Loggers with 11 kills and five blocks.