NEWBERG, Ore. - Iris Tikhonov drilled a career-high 21 kills to lead visiting Whitworth to a five-set win at George Fox on Friday night, avenging the Pirates' only Northwest Conference volleyball loss of the season.
Whitworth, which has already clinched the conference title, defeated the Bruins 25-14, 23-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-10 to improve to 20-5 overall and 15-1 in the NWC. The Bruins (12-12, 9-6) saw their eight match NWC winning streak come to an end.
The Pirates blew through the opening set by hitting .469 as a team with 16 kills and only one error. Kiana Vandaele's service ace gave Whitworth a 9-5 lead and a Tikhonov kill made it 17-11. Madison Douglas ended the set with a kill.
The Bruins bounced back to win a closely-contested second set. Saylor Anderson's service ace made it 8-6 Whitworth. But GFU rallied to go up 11-9 on an ace from Laney Search. Whitworth took its final lead at 13-12 on a Bruin attack error. George Fox went ahead 23-20 before Whitworth tied it 23-23 on a kill from Abby Wolverton. The Bruins scored the final two points, settled by a block from Search and Ashtyn Butler.
Whitworth jumped to a 5-1 lead in the third set and never trailed. A Tikhonov kill made it 9-5 before GFU got within 12-11. The Pirates closed the set on a 13-4 run, including the final five points in a row.
George Fox never trailed in the fourth set, opening a 5-1 lead and stretching it to 16-8 on another ace by Search. Whitworth rallied to within 19-18 after a Bruin error, but George Fox outscored the Bucs 6-2 the rest of the way.
The Pirates broke away from a 2-2 tie in the final set with a 6-2 run that included three kills by Emiko Kahler and a pair from Tikhonov. Kaitlyn White's kill made it 11-5 and Whitworth won the match on George Fox's final hitting error.
Tikhonov hit .395 in the match and added four block assists. Kahler finished with 17 kills and hit .298. Douglas totaled seven kills. Vandaele totaled 24 digs and led the Bucs with four aces.
Liv Alexander led GFU with 15 kills and Paige O'Rear added 14.
Whitworth will close the regular season on Saturday at Lewis & Clark.