The Bearcats Spooked 17th Ranked Wildcats with a Halloween Win

McMINNVILLE, OR: An error-filled Halloween performance could come back to haunt the 17th-ranked Linfield Wildcats, who entered Friday night's match with hopes of clinching a share of their first Northwest Conference crown since 1989. Instead, a scrappy Willamette squad tortured Linfield like a bad scary movie, beating the favored Wildcats 3-1 inside raucous Ted Wilson Gym. The upset-minded Bearcats (15-8, 7-6 NWC) handed Linfield its first home loss of the season, snapping the Wildcats' 10-match winning streak.

Jenni Linden drilled 17 kills and added four service aces to pace Willamette. Angie Sammons and Lauren Thompson each contributed 15 digs for the visiting Bearcats. 5 of the Bearcats were in the double digits for kills by the end of the night; Kristin Kirschner with 10 and Kristin Halleck with 13 kills and 23 digs.

For the Wildcats, Lindsay Harksen and Andrea Beck each had 13 kills (21-3, 12-2 NWC). Liz McClung had 26 digs to go with seven kills.

Willamette jumped on the favored Wildcats for a seven-point victory in game one. The Bearcats used a 6-1 run highlighted by three consecutive Kristin Kirschner kills to pull away from an 11-11 deadlock and win 30-23.

Willamette kept the momentum in the second frame and led from first serve to final point. Lauren Thompson's kill gave the Bearcats a seven-point lead at 17-10. The Wildcats could draw no closer the rest of the way, losing 30-19.

Game three was a tense, rollercoaster battle that saw the Wildcats bolt in front 6-1, before the Bearcats tied the game at 12. From there, WU surged to leads of 17-14 and 22-16, but the Wildcats stormed back to tie things up at 24. Kirschner's kill made the score 28-28, but neither team was willing to fall easily. An attack error by Willamette and a Lindsay Harksen service ace finally turned the tide in the Wildcats' favor, 36-34.

The Bearcats emerged from a 12-12 tie to take control of the game four and the match. After Willamette built a three-point lead at 15-12, the Wildcats couldn't recover, losing 30-24.

The Bearcats play Lewis & Clark at home tomorrow at 7pm.