Freshmen Lead Bearcats to First NWC Win

SALEM, OR — Willamette University’s freshmen quartet of hitters — Jessica McGraw, Jessica Durham, Mary Butler and Kelley Lindstrom — each had double-digit kills as the Bearcats won their first conference match of the season with a 3-2 win over Pacific University Friday night at the Cone Field House.

The Bearcats won the match by scores of 28-30, 30-18, 30-21, 23-30, 15-6. Willamette is now 2-8 on the season, 1-4 in the NWC. Pacific falls to 8-6 overall, 3-2 NWC.

Lindstrom (pictured left) led the way with 20 kills. McGraw had 15 put-aways while Durham and Butler each had ten. Sophomore Jordyn Smith also had ten kills. Jessica Drumm had 35 assists to pace the bearcats while NWC digs leader Roni Schneider tallied 35.

In the decisive fifth game, Drumm got the Bearcats off to a 4-0 lead on her serve, benefiting from a pair of Pacific errors and kills by Lindstrom and McGraw. Willamette stretched the lead to 9-4 on a Butler kill before a pair of attack errors by the Boxers put the Bearcats up 11-4.

The Bearcats reeled off three more points for a 14-4 lead on a pair of Lindstrom kills and a service ace by Durham. Butler’s kill gave the young Bearcats their first conference win of the season.

Willamette started the match by taking a 16-10 lead in game one as six different Bearcats recorded early kills. But Megan Van Domelen got five straight points on her serve, including kills by Melissa Dunn and Caitlyn Verges, to get back into the game.

At 18-18 Pacific went on a 7-1 run led by Dunn before ending the game on a Bearcat service error.

Games two and three were all Willamette. Drumm continued to spread the ball around as the Bearcats opened up a 21-12 lead in game two before coasting to the 30-18 win on a kill by McGraw.

Game three was much the same as Willamette went on a 10-1 run with the scored tied at 15-15. Kills by McGraw, Lindstrom and Smith put the Bearcats up before three straight attack errors by Pacific gave the Bearcats a nine-point lead.

Pacific stormed to a 15-9 lead in game four before Butler led a mini-Bearcat charge to get within two at 15-13. But a kill by Anela Iseke stopped the Bearcat charge and Pacific pulled ahead 26-19 on a kill by Sarah Monda. Monda ended the game with another kill, setting the stage for the Bearcats final game win.

For Pacific, Dunn led the way with 15 kills. Van Domelen added 12. Iseke recorded 26 assists and Lisa Twigg added 16. Dunn and Iseke each had 20 digs.

For the match, Willamette had a .191 hitting percentage to .135 for Pacific. But in the pivotal game five, Willamette had eight kills in 24 attempts while Pacific managed just 2-23.

Willamette looks to continue its two-match winning st4reak when they take on Linfield Saturday night in McMinnville.