Pirates Come Back to Beat Willamette, 3-2

Spokane, Wash. — Whitworth College came all the way back from a 2 games to none deficit to defeat visiting Willamette University 29-31, 24-30, 30-17, 30-24, 18-16 in a Northwest Conference volleyball match in front of 545 boisterous fans on Friday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.

The win improved the Pirates to 9-2 overall and 2-1 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 8-3 and 2-1.

Katy Schrader led five players who reached double figures in kills for Whitworth with 14 while hitting .371 for the match. Setter Bekah Hornor was everywhere for the Pirates, dishing 46 assists to go with 13 kills (.333 hitting), six aces and 20 digs. Julie Marsh had 12 kills and six blocks, while Natalie Danielson added 11 kills and a match-high eight blocks. Brittney Bower also had 11 kills for the Bucs.

Angie Sammons posted a match-high 21 kills for the Bearcats while hitting .367. Lauren Thompson finished with 15 kills and Kristen Halleck totaled 14 kills. Celia Batlan led all players with 21 digs while playing libero for Willamette.

The teams traded leads throughout a taut first game. Willamette took an early 9-5 lead on a service ace by Sammons. But the Pirates went in front 16-13 on consecutive attack errors by Julie Christine. Willamette regained the lead 20-18 on a kill by Thompson. Whitworth seemed to take control when a Schrader kill gave the Pirates a 27-23 lead. But Willamette won five consecutive points, capped by a block from Christine and Julie Scheeler to go in front 28-27. The Bearcats eventually won 31-29 on an attack error by Whitworth's Marsh.

Willamette used the momentum to open a quick 7-2 lead in game two. Even though Whitworth tied the game at 7-7, the Bearcats remained in control, hitting .300 in the game and winning 30-24.

After the break Whitworth found itself. Whitworth led the third game 14-12 and then went on a 9-1 run to open a 23-13 lead on a kill by Schrader. The Pirates closed out the game 30-17 on Hornor's service ace.

The Pirates never trailed in game four, but never had a comfortable lead until the end. Consecutive Whitworth attack errors pulled Willamette to within 24-22. After the teams traded a pair of points apiece, Whitworth scored the final four to win the game 30-24. Danielson and Hornor blocked Thompson's attack on the final point.

Willamette did not lose its composure, however. Despite losing a two games to none advantage, the Bearcats came out hard in game five and took a quick 4-0 lead, including three kills from Sammons. A kill by Thompson kept the Bearcat edge at 8-5 on the changeover. But the Pirates scored the next five points and took a 10-8 lead on a kill by Hornor. Willamette fought back to tie the game and took a 12-11 lead on another Sammons kill. But another kill by Hornor put the Pirates back in front 14-13. At that point the Bearcats fought off four consecutive match points for the Pirates before an attack error by Halleck gave Whitworth an 18-16 win.

Both teams must recover from the marathon match quickly. On Saturday Willamette travels to Walla Walla to battle Whitman College while Whitworth hosts Lewis & Clark College