FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Emiko Kahler's 21 kills led visiting Whitworth back for a five set win over Pacific University on Friday night in the Stoller Center.
The Pirates clinched a second place finish in the Northwest Conference by winning 25-22, 17-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-10. Whitworth is now 15-9 overall and 12-3 in the NWC.
Kahler's 21 kills is a season-high and tied her career-high from 2016. She also had 22 digs. Cassandra Mendoza added 15 kills and 16 digs, while Lauren Budde finished with 11 kills. Gracie Meiners dished 45 assists and Taylor Wicht totaled 25 digs. The Pirates hit .209 and had seven blocks as a team.
Whitworth won the opening set after rallying from a 14-10 deficit. Trailing by four, the Pirates went on an 8-2 run to go up 18-16. The Boxers answered with a 4-0 run of their own to lead 20-18. Whitworth followed with a 5-1 spurt and won the set on a kill by Mendoza.
Pacific never trailed in the second set after racing out to a 10-1 lead. The Boxers were leading 21-10 before Whitworth rallied to within 23-17. Morgan Mendicino ended the set in Pacific's favor with a kill.
It was the Pirates' turn to jump out to a big lead in the third set, going up 10-4 after a Boxer's attack error. But Pacific scored six straight points to tie the set 10-10. The teams would trade the lead seven times the rest of the way before the Boxers won on kills by Karlee Duncan and Mendicino.
Whitworth used a 14-4 run midway through the fourth set to open up a 24-15 lead. The Boxers scored four straight points until Mendoza ended the fourth frame with a kill. The Bucs hit .289 in the fourth set.
The Pirates trailed 6-4 in the fifth set, but went on a 7-1 run to grab a lead they would not lose. For the third time in the match, Mendoza ended the set with a kill.
Jordan Zweifel had 19 kills and Duncan had 16 for Pacific (16-7, 9-6 NWC). Ellie Parker had 57 assists and Anna Vanderweyst had 33 digs.
Whitworth will close out the season on Saturday night with a match at Linfield College.