SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth Pirates decided they didn't want to share. One night after the Bucs clinched at least a share of the Northwest Conference volleyball title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament, Whitworth defeated visiting Linfield in four sets to secure an outright NWC crown.
The Pirates (19-5 overall, 13-1 NWC) defeated the Wildcats 25-9, 25-10, 23-25, 25-12 to remain three games ahead in the standings with only two matches left to play. Whitworth will close out the regular season next weekend at George Fox and Lewis & Clark. The NCAA tournament field will be announced on Monday, November 11th and the Bucs will find out then where and who they will play in the opening round.
Emiko Kahler pounded 23 kills in her final home match as a Pirate, hitting .400 and adding 13 digs and three block assists. She totaled 25.5 points in the match. Linfield scored 40 points as a team.
Whitworth rolled to easy wins in the first two sets by hitting .385 as a team in the opening frame and .520 as a squad in the second stanza. The Pirates had 29 kills and only one hitting error in the first two sets. Seniors Danielle Tang and Elise Anderson combined for 10 of Whitworth's kills in the first two games.
But Linfield (5-21, 1-13) refused to fold easily. The young Wildcat squad never trailed in the third set, opening leads of 4-0 and 11-5. Whitworth rallied to within 21-20 and 24-23, but Hannah Waterman's kill gave the visitors a win in the third frame.
The Pirates regained their mojo in the fourth set, hitting .367 as a team behind Kahler's seven kills. Whitworth used an 11-3 run to turn a 9-5 lead into a 20-8 advantage. Tang hit the final kill of the season in the Fieldhouse to end the match.
Tang totaled nine kills, while Iris Tikhonov also had nine kills and added five block assists. Anderson had seven kills without an error for a .318 hitting average. Saylor Anderson had 26 assists and 16 digs.
Whitworth was strong behind the service line, finishing with 11 aces. Madison Douglas had four.
Raelynn Hammock led Linfield with 10 kills, the only Wildcat in double figures.