Bearcats Scare 21st-Ranked Pacific Lutheran, before Lutes Rally for Northwest Conference Win; Lindstrom Earns 19 Kills for Willamette

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University almost upset 21st-ranked Pacific Lutheran University in a Northwest Conference volleyball match at the Sparks Center on Saturday, Oct. 21. Along the way, the Bearcats put a scare into the Lutes, as Willamette won the first and third games, before PLU rallied for a 26-30, 30-16, 25-30, 30-21, 15-8 victory. Pacific Lutheran improved to 18-4 overall, 12-0 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 4-18 on the season, 0-11 in the NWC.

PLU entered the game ranked #21 in the NCAA Division III Poll conducted by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). Even so, the Bearcats took the Lutes the distance before the NWC leaders prevailed.

In the first game, Pacific Lutheran got out to a quick start, as the Lutes built a 10-4 lead. The Lutes also led 12-6, before Willamette ran off seven unanswered points, including six in a row with Julie Stutzman (Fr., OH, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) serving. Stutzman earned two service aces during the run.

Willamette and PLU battled as the first game progressed, with the Lutes eventually taking a 26-24 lead. The Bearcats responded by stringing together six consecutive points to win the game, 30-26. Kelley Lindstrom (So., OH, Banks, OR/Banks HS), who led Willamette with 19 kills in the match, provided three kills in the decisive first-game run. The run also featured one kill each by Mary Butler (So., MB, Robbins, CA/Yuba City HS) and Jordyn Smith (Jr., RS, Las Vegas, NV/Green Valley HS), plus an attacking error by PLU.

The second game began with Pacific Lutheran surging out to a 13-3 lead, and the Bearcats were never able to recover. Willamette pulled within five points at 15-10, but couldn’t catch the Lutes, who evened the match at one game apiece with a 30-16 triumph.

WU and PLU were tied at 20-20 in the third game, but the Bearcats scored the next four points, with Butler serving, to take command. The Lutes managed to cut the deficit to 25-22, but Willamette countered by winning two rallies in a row. The teams exchanged the next six points, as WU took a 30-25 victory and a 2-1 lead in the match.

Lindstrom registered seven kills and a .500 hitting percentage during the third game. The game also included 28 digs and six block assists by the Bearcats.

In the fourth game, PLU received six kills from Kati McGinn and five kills from Kelcy Joynt, as the Lutes earned a 30-21 win. Willamette trailed at one point, 24-16, but Lindstrom produced three consecutive aces to cut the lead to five points. WU also cut the advantage to five points at 25-20, but PLU tallied five of the next six points to force a fifth game.

The Bearcats led 2-1 in the deciding game, before the Lutes scored five straight points to start a 9-1 run. PLU’s 10-3 lead sent the Lutes on their way to a 13-5 advantage. Willamette attempted to rally, as the Bearcats scored three consecutive points to reduce the lead to 13-8. McGinn registered two kills in a row to complete the match.

Pacific Lutheran was led by McGinn, who finished with 20 kills, 22 digs, four service aces and three block assists. Stacie Matz provided 18 kills and 10 digs, while Gina Di Maggio contributed 10 kills, 10 digs, 54 assists and six total blocks. Megan Kosel topped all players for both teams with 26 digs. PLU achieved a hitting percentage of .192, including .500 in the fifth game.

Linsdtrom was joined in double-figure kills by Jordyn Smith, who recorded 10 kills and just two attacking errors. Smith also earned 11 digs and two block assists. Stutzman supplied nine kills, six digs and four service aces. Setter Jessica Drumm (Jr., Salem, OR/South Salem HS) recorded 46 assists and has 12 digs. Alona Lyamin (Jr., DS, Moses Lake, WA/Moses Lake Christian Academy/Big Bend CC) earned 21 digs. WU hit .145 for the match, with hitting percentages of .314 in the first game and .191 in the third game.

Willamette finished with 16 block assists for 8.0 team total blocks. Pacific Lutheran recorded three block solos and 14 block assists, as the Lutes registered 10.0 team total blocks. PLU edged the Bearcats in digs, 85-84.

The Bearcats will play another nationally-ranked NWC opponent when they meet Linfield College on Wednesday, Oct. 25, in McMinnville, Ore. Match time is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PDT). Linfield is currently ranked 15th in NCAA Division III.