SPOKANE, Wash. – Thanks to three players in double figures in kills, visiting Whitworth survived an upset bid by host Linfield with a five-set Northwest Conference volleyball victory on Saturday night.
The Pirates (12-4 overall, 6-0 NWC) defeated the Wildcats (5-13, 1-5) 25-17, 16-25, 25-20, 24-26, 15-12 to remain in sole possession of first place in the conference volleyball standings.
Whitworth led only 17-16 in the first set before closing on an 8-1 run. Tikhonov began the run with a couple of kills and Kahler ended it with back-to-back service aces.
Linfield broke away from a 6-6 tie in the second set with a 6-1 run. Aylea Dixson served back-to-back aces at the end of the run. The Wildcats claimed the set after a Whitworth service error.
The Pirates trailed 17-15 in the third set after a kill by Raelynn Hammock and 19-17 on a service ace by Maya Nakasone. But Whitworth finished the set on an 8-1 run. Kahler opened the surge with a kill and Wolverton ended it with a two put-aways.
The Pirates had a chance to close out the match in four sets when Madison Douglas gave them a 20-19 lead with a kill. Linfield went on a 4-1 spurt for a 23-21 lead before the Bucs tied the set 24-24 on another kill by Douglas. The Wildcats sent the match to a fifth set, capped by a kill from Lori Cimmiyotti.
Whitworth never trailed in the final game, grabbing a 10-5 lead on a kill from Elise Anderson. Linfield cut the margin to 14-12 after a block, but Wolverton's final kill of the match gave the Bucs the win.
Hammock led Linfield with a match-high 17 kills and added 16 digs. Dixon finished with three aces and 36 assists.
Whitworth will be back in the Fieldhouse next weekend when the Bucs host George Fox and Lewis & Clark.