Bearcats Fall to Cal State-East Bay and to UC-Santa Cruz on First Day of Willamette Tournament

SALEM, OR - The Willamette University volleyball team lost two matches on the opening day of the Willamette Tournament in Cone Field House. The Bearcats struggled against highly-regarded California State University-East Bay in WU's first match of the day, falling 30-19, 30-20, 30-18. In the second match, Willamette battled with the University of California-Santa Cruz until the Banana Slugs escaped with a 30-23, 18-30, 31-29, 35-33 victory.

Cal State-East Bay, which entered the tournament ranked #23 in the AVCA Preseason Poll for NCAA Division III, limited Willamette to a .010 team hitting percentage. The Bearcats earned 27 kills and committed 26 attacking errors, compared to 32 kills and just 13 errors by CSU-East Bay.

Kelly Paris from East Bay and Kelley Lindstrom (So., OH, Banks, OR/Banks HS) from Willamette led their respective teams with seven kills apiece. Julie Stutzman (Fr., OH, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) added six kills for the Bearcats.

Alyssa Chang produced 12 assists and 11 digs for the Pioneers. Jessica Durham (So., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) contributed 12 digs and Jessica Drumm (Jr., S, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) tacked on 11 assists for Willamette.

UC-Santa Cruz moved out in front in the second match by winning Game #1, 30-23. Willamette equalized with a 30-18 win in Game #2. The teams were tied at 29-29 in the third game, before the Banana Slugs scored two consecutive points for a 31-29 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.

In the fourth game, there were 15 ties and seven lead changes. WU led, 24-19, but UCSC went on an 8-2 run to take a 27-26 advantage. The Banana Slugs moved within a point of winning the match at 29-28, but Willamette scored the next point on block assists from Edyth Lee-Barnes (Fr. OH/RS, Corvallis, OR/Corvallis HS) and Julie Christine (Jr., MB, Sammamish, WA/Eastlake HS).

Willamette went on to take leads of 30-29, 31-30 and 32-31, but UC-Santa Cruz fought off three game points. The Banana Slugs led 33-32, only to have the Bearcats equalize on a solo block by Stutzman. Two consecutive kill errors by Willamette gave UCSC the win, as the Banana Slugs improved to 1-1 on the season.

In other matches on the first day of the event, Whitworth College defeated UC-Santa Cruz, 30-25, 30-22, 24-30, 30-27, and Linfield College defeated Evergreen State College, 30-18, 30-18, 30-20

The Bearcats will conclude the Willamette Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 2. WU is slated to take on Northwest Conference rival Linfield at 12 p.m. (PDT) and to face Evergreen at 5 p.m. (PDT).