Bearcats Play Tough In Loss To Linfield

McMINNVILLE, Ore. - Upstart Willamette made nationally ranked Linfield work for nearly every point Saturday before the host Wildcats could pull out a four-game Northwest Conference victory at Ted Wilson Gym.

The ninth-rated Wildcats won an intense match 26-30, 30-18, 30-27, 30-13 to improve to 5-1 in the NWC, 13-1 overall. Willamette, riding the momentum of its first victory of the season Friday, fell to 1-5 in the conference and 1-9 overall.

The underdog Bearcats rocketed to a 1-0 advantage in the match. Tied at 16, the Bearcats scored five of the next six points, including two kills by Kelley Lindstrom. Linfield closed the margin to 26-25, but the Bearcats closed the game with a kill by Jessica McGraw and a service ace from Jessica Durham. Lindstrom accounted for six of her match-high 16 kills in the frame.

In Game 2, the Wildcats pulled away from a 3-3 tie, opening up leads of 17-12 and 22-14. Led by the efficiency of Lindsay Harksen and Kelsey French, the Wildcats hit .440 in the game.

Game 3 was nip and tuck. Two attack errors by the Wildcats allowed the Bearcats to build an 18-14 lead. Linfield closed to within one, 20-19 on a kill by Lisa Brocard then tied the game at 24 on Kreiger's kill. Another Brocard kill and two Bearcats' attack errors put Linfield in control, 29-26, before Harksen polished it off with a kill along the sideline.

Linfield jumped to a quick 9-2 advantage in the deciding game and never trailed by less than 11 the rest of the way.

For the Bearcats, Jessica McGraw added 14 kills and seven digs. Jessica Drumm dished out 45 assists, and Veronica Schneider led the defensive effort with 18 digs.

Willamette takes the long trek to Eastern Washington next weekend, taking on Whitworth on Friday night and Whitman on Saturday.