TACOMA, Wash. – Pacific Lutheran defeated visiting Whitworth 20-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-16 to create a tie atop the Northwest Conference volleyball standings on Saturday night.
The Pirates fell to 18-7 overall and 12-2 in the NWC while the 17th-ranked Lutes improved to 19-3, 12-2. PLU and Whitworth are tied for first place with two matches to play for each school in the 2018 regular season. The Bucs will finish at Whitman and at home against Linfield next week. PLU finishes at George Fox and at Lewis & Clark.
If PLU and Whitworth remain tied at the conclusion of the regular season, the Pirates hold the tiebreaker for the NWC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament based on head-to-head sets won and lost (4-3). The Bucs swept PLU in the teams' first meeting on September 29th.
The Pirates claimed the opening set thanks to a 5-1 run that gave them a 20-14 lead on Laina Damon's service ace. After the Lutes clawed back to within 23-20, Whitworth won the set on a kill by Jessica Schmautz and a PLU setting error.
PLU built an 18-10 lead in the second set after Emily Dulany's service ace. Whitworth rallied with five straight points, including consecutive kills by Schmautz. The Lutes held on to win the set after a kill from Danielle Skibiel.
Whitworth took an early 5-3 lead in the third frame after Schmautz's service ace. PLU responded with a 7-2 run and never trailed again. The Lutes finished out the match by leading wire-to-wire in the fourth set.
Schmautz had 14 kills, Emiko Kahler added 12 and Lauren Budde finished with 11 to lead the Pirates offensively. Addy Woolery had 23 digs while Erin White dished 38 assists and added 13 digs. Iris Tikhonov was in on seven block assists. Whitworth hit .110 as a team.
Skibiel and Chloe Epker led PLU with 11 kills each. Mackenzie Harris had 10 kills and was part of nine blocks (one solo, eight assists). The Lutes hit .226.
Whitworth will play at Whitman on Wednesday night at 6:00 pm.