SPOKANE, Wash. – After running away with the opening set Whitworth had to work hard to complete a sweep of visiting Willamette in a Northwest Conference volleyball match on Friday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
The Pirates won 25-10, 25-22, 25-22 to improve to 6-6 overall and 3-1 in the NWC. The Bearcats fell to 3-8, 0-3.
Whitworth completely dominated the opening set, building a 20-5 lead which allowed head coach Kati Bodecker to go deep into her bench for the final five points. The Pirates hit .468 with 15 kills in the first set. Fourteen different players appeared in that frame for the Bucs.
But Willamette responded and pushed Whitworth to the brink in each of the next two sets. The Bearcats took a 19-18 lead in the second set on a service ace from Dreux Bertolucci. But the Pirates went on a 6-1 run to go up 24-20. Cassandra Mendoza's kill ended the set in Whitworth's favor.
The third set was just as close. The Bearcats went up 16-15 on Emma Liband's kill before Whitworth took the lead for good at 18-16 on a kill from Emiko Kahler. Kahler's final kill ended the match in the Pirates' favor.
"I think the first set was a little misleading and we caught them off guard," Bodecker said. "Willamette really raised its level of play after that set and we needed to respond. I'm proud of the way we responded. We kept our focus on the next point and worked hard for those points."
Whitworth finished the match with a .278 hitting percentage. Mendoza posted a match-high 13 kills and a .346 hitting percentage. Kahler added nine kills, while Lauren Budde had eight kills and four block-assists. Madison Douglas posted a hitting percentage of .636 with 7 kills in 11 attacks. Gracie Meiners dished 39 assists and Taylor Wicht had 17 digs.
Kendall Fox led Willamette with eight kills. Liband had six kills and was in on six blocks. The Bearcats hit .139 as a team with Jaiden Mason handing out 27 assists.