WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The Whitworth volleyball team may have exorcized some late season demons with a four-set road win over Whitman on Wednesday night.
Nearly one year after a Halloween Night setback in Walla Walla cost the Pirates a share of the 2018 Northwest Conference title, the Pirates (16-5 overall, 10-1 NWC) pulled out a 25-19, 25-10, 22-25, 25-22 win over the Blues (2-15, 2-9).
Whitworth hit .346 in the opening set to get out to a hot start. A Madison Douglas service ace gave the Bucs a quick 5-1 lead and Iris Tikhonov made it 8-2 with a kill. Consecutive aces by Eva Millan increased the lead to 20-10. Whitman used an 8-2 run to cut the margin to 22-18. Douglas ended the set for the Bucs with a kill.
Whitworth ran away with the second set, going ahead 7-1 after a Whitman error and increasing the margin to 16-2 on a kill by Tikhonov. Emiko Kahler's kill ended the set.
The Blues won their first set of the season against the Pirates to avoid getting swept by Whitworth for the third time this year. An Elyse Benavides kill gave Whitman an early 7-2 lead. The Pirates fought back to within 16-15 on a kill by Abby Wolverton, but were never able to overtake the Blues. Emma Anderson's kill ended the frame in Whitman's favor.
The Blues led much of the way in the fourth set as well, grabbing a 6-2 lead after a Benavides kill. Whitman still led 12-8 before Whitworth rallied to take an 18-16 lead on a block from Tikhonov and Wolverton. The Blues fought back to go ahead 21-19 after a Benavides service ace. The Pirates then closed the match on a 6-1 run to pull out the win. Kahler had the match-winning kill.
Kahler led the way with a match-high 20 kills. It is her third consecutive match with 20 or more put-aways. Wolverton added 12 kills and hit .526 with only two errors in 19 attempts. Douglas had eight kills and hit .400. The Pirates served 10 aces, including two each from Douglas, Kiana Vandaele, Kaitlyn White and Millan.
Benavides led Whitman with 13 kills, 11 digs and three aces. Christina Boxberger added a dozen kills.
Whitworth now travels to Oregon for Saturday's match at second place Pacific (Ore.).