PARKLAND, Wash. – Emiko Kahler had 18 kills and 14 digs to lead Whitworth to a five-set road victory over defending Northwest Conference champion Pacific Lutheran in the conference volleyball opener for both schools on Friday night at Olson Auditorium.
The Pirates (7-4, 1-0 NWC) defeated the Lutes (7-6, 0-1) 25-17, 13-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-10 for their first road win in the series since 2016. That was also the last season Whitworth won an NWC title.
The Pirates used a 12-1 run in the first set to open a 17-6 lead. Abby Wolverton had back-to-back kills and Kaitlyn White had back-to-back aces in the run. Madison Douglas ended the set with a kill for the Bucs.
PLU raced out to a 16-5 lead in the second game, turning the tables on Whitworth's fast start. The Pirates struggled at the net, hitting -0.135 with only five kills and 10 errors in the frame.
The Lutes appeared to take control of the match by winning the third set. Whitworth led 13-11 when PLU used a 10-3 run to open up a 21-16 advantage after a kill by Baylee Johnson. The Bucs got within 24-21 on Elise Anderson's kill before PLU finished the frame.
Whitworth jumped to a 7-1 lead in the fourth set, retaking momentum in the match. After the Lutes closed to within 8-6, the Pirates moved back out to a 15-7 lead, sparked by three Kahler kills. It was another Kahler kill that ended the set and forced the fifth stanza.
Whitworth never trailed in the final set, jumping out to a 6-2 lead after a block from Abby Wolverton and Iris Tikhonov. PLU pulled within 13-10 before Whitworth got the final two points on a block from Tikhonov and Kahler and an ace by Anderson.
Danielle Skibiel had 21 kills for PLU to go along with seven block assists.
Whitworth will complete its conference-opening weekend on Saturday with a match at Puget Sound.