SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth University bounced back from its first Northwest Conference volleyball loss of the season with a four-set win over visiting Lewis & Clark College on Saturday night.
But it wasn't without drama as the Pirates (13-5 overall, 7-1 NWC) had to rally after dropping a close first set, winning 28-30, 25-7, 25-21, 25-21 over the Pioneers (7-9, 3-5).
The first set featured nine ties and four lead changes. Whitworth trailed 10-6, but used a 10-2 run to grab a 16-12 led after a Kahler kill. The Pirates still led 23-20 when L&C rallied to take a 26-25 advantage on Kahler's error. With the set tied 28-28, the Pioneers got a kill by Emma Ehlers and a Whitworth attack error to pull out the game. Malone had seven kills for L&C in the first set.
The Pirates responded quickly, dominating the second set 25-7. The Bucs hit .478 in the frame with 12 kills and only one error in 23 attacks. Tikhonov came alive with five kills and two block assists. Whitworth used an 11-0 run to turn a 6-2 lead into an insurmountable 17-2 advantage.
The Bucs trailed 11-8 in the third game before a quick 5-0 run gave them a lead they'd never give up the rest of the set. Abby Wolverton had a pair of kills in that spurt. A Madison Douglas kill gave Whitworth a 22-18 lead and a Tikhonov put-away ended the set in Whitworth's favor.
The final set featured seven ties and four lead changes. Whitworth went up 11-6 early, thanks in part to three straight service aces from Kahler. L&C fought back to take its final lead at 18-17 on a kill by Malone. The Pirates scored four straight points to force the Pioneers to call timeout. Wolverton's kill ended the set, and the match, in Whitworth's favor.
The Pirates hit .240 as a team, cutting down on the attack errors that helped lead to Friday night's loss to George Fox. Kahler had 16 kills, Tikhonov added 14 and Wolverton finished with 10. Joelle Forbes and Saylor Anderson combined for 48 assists. Tikhonov led the Pirates with six block assists.
Malone had a match-high 19 kills for L&C.
Whitworth will continue a four-match home streak next weekend by hosting Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound to open the second half of the NWC schedule.