SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth volleyball team will conclude the first half of its Northwest Conference schedule with a pair of home matches this weekend. The Pirates will host George Fox on Friday night (7:00 pm) and Lewis & Clark on Saturday (6:00 pm).
Watch the Whitworth volleyball schedule for live links to this weekend's matches.
The Pirates: Whitworth (12-4 overall, 6-0 NWC) maintained sole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference standings with road victories at Willamette and Linfield last week.
The Pirates had one of their best all-around matches of the season in a 25-12, 25-20, 25-14 win at Willamette on Friday night. Whitworth hit .229 as a team with only 11 attack errors. They also had 11 team blocks on defense. Emiko Kahler led the team with 15 kills while hitting .351. She also reached a career milestone with her 1,000th kill. Iris Tikhonov added six kills and was in on six blocks (one solo, five assists).
Whitworth had to survive a strong upset bid from Linfield College before pulling out a 25-17, 16-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-12 victory on Saturday night. The Pirates helped the Wildcats' cause with 17 service errors, a season-high total. Kahler had 18 kills and 18 digs to lead Whitworth in both categories. Tikhonov added a career-high 16 kills and Abby Wolverton contributed 14 kills, including the match-winner. Joelle Forbes and Saylor Anderson combined for 51 assists, while Forbes had five kills (no errors) and three block assists.
The Leader: Emiko Kahler is back in form in 2019. A two-time NWC Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week in 2019, she currently leads the conference in kills per set (3.81) and is second in total kills (225). She was the 2016 NWC Freshman of the Year and earned a second straight first team All-NWC honor in 2017. Kahler was honorable mention All-NWC in 2018 after starting slowly due to injuries. She surpassed 1,000 kills in her career on October 4th at Willamette and now has 1,022 and counting.
Among NWC Leaders: Several other Pirates rank among the conference leaders in key statistical categories. Saylor Anderson leads the Northwest Conference in service aces per set (0.58). With another big week at the net, Iris Tikhonov now leads the NWC in blocks per set (1.10). Kiana Vandaele is fifth in digs per set (4.24) and sixth in total digs (250).
The Coach: Kati Bodecker, 110-50 heading into her seventh season guiding the Pirates, is a three-time Northwest Conference Coach of the Year after leading Whitworth to three straight NWC titles from 2014 through 2016. Bodecker also directed the Pirates to three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament. In 2013 she coached the Bucs to a 15-13 record, becoming the first Whitworth volleyball coach to post a winning record in her first season since Margaret Campbell in 1990. She previously had been the head coach at Priest River High School, leading the Spartans to five state tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish in 2012. She was a four-year starter at the University of Idaho, helping lead the Vandals to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances as a sophomore and junior.
The Opponents: George Fox is 4-11 overall and 1-5 in the NWC heading into the weekend. The Bruins lost 3-0 at Lewis & Clark last Wednesday and then took Puget Sound to five sets at home before losing on Saturday night. George Fox ranks second in the conference in team digs per set (18.06). Junior OH Paige O'Rear averages 2.67 kills and 3.12 digs per set and leads her team with 21 service aces. Junior libero Sophie Lawrence leads the NWC in digs per set (5.80) by a wide margin. Whitworth swept George Fox in a pair of matches in 2018, winning 3-2 on the road and 3-1 at home. The Pirates have won the last 13 contests against the Bruins.
Lewis & Clark College is 7-7 overall and 3-3 in the NWC heading into Friday night's match at Whitman. The Pioneers followed up last Wednesday's sweep of George Fox with a hard-fought 3-2 loss at home to Pacific Lutheran on Friday. Two of L&C's three conference losses have come in five sets. The Pioneers have been the best digging team in the NWC this season, averaging 18.55 per set. Sophomore OH Kendall Malone is second in the NWC in kills per set (3.73) and adds 3.63 digs per game. Sophomore setter Michelle McGinn averages 8.41 assists and 3.20 digs per set. Whitworth swept Lewis & Clark twice in 2018 and the Pirates have won the last ten in a row between the schools.
Coming Up: Whitworth will begin the second round of conference matches with home games against Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound on October 18th and 19th.