SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth University took over sole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference volleyball standings with a hard-fought four-set win over visiting Pacific University on Friday night.
The Pirates (10-4 overall, 4-0 NWC) defeated the Boxers (9-4, 2-1) 25-19, 17-25, 28-26, 26-24 to become the final unbeaten team in NWC play. The Bucs claimed their eighth straight win against the Boxers.
Emiko Kahler had a double-double with 15 kills and 16 digs, her fourth double-double in as many conference matches.
Whitworth trailed 9-4 early in the opening set before the Pirates began to chip into the lead. Still trailing 17-15, the Pirates closed the set on a 10-2 run. Kahler had three kills and Kaitlyn White drilled pair of aces during the rally.
The teams traded points through the first half of the second game until Pacific used a 6-1 run to grab a 19-14 lead on a kill by Elika Unti. Karlee Duncan's kill ended the set in the Boxers' favor.
The third set proved decisive, and both teams played like it. There were 18 ties and 11 lead changes and neither team led by more than three points. Whitworth took a 23-20 lead after a Pacific error, but the Boxers rallied with four straight points and served for the set at 24-23. The Pirates fought off three set points and scored the final three points of the frame. Abby Wolverton had a kill and a block for the last two Whitworth points.
The fourth set was also tightly contested. The Pirates appeared in control at 19-15 after Saylor Anderson's service ace, but Pacific answered with five straight points, including an ace by Makenna Mahuna. Whitworth took a 24-23 on Kahler's kill and won the match on a kill by Tikhonov.
Pacific had better overall stats in nearly every category. The Boxers hit .153 to Whitworth's .139 and led in kills 53-42. Pacific had 70 digs to Whitworth's 50. But the Pirates had five more blocks (13-8) and two more service aces (7-5).
Wolverton had nine kills and two solo blocks for the Bucs, while Tikhonov was in on eight blocks (three solo, five assists). Anderson had 17 assists and two aces while splitting time with Joelle Forbes at setter.
Jordan Zweifel led Pacific with 14 kills, 11 assists and four assisted blocks. Dancan had 13 kills and Nanea Lum finished with 10 kills. Mahuna dished 45 assists and had two aces for Pacific.
Whitworth will return to action next weekend with matches at Willamette and Linfield.