Willamette and George Fox Battle from Start to Finish, as Bruins Defeat Bearcats, 35-33, 30-20, 22-30, 30-25

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University and George Fox University battled from the beginning of their Northwest Conference match on Friday, Oct. 6, until the final point was scored two hours and five minutes later. In between, both teams earned 111 digs and over 200 attacks, with George Fox claiming a 35-33, 30-20, 22-30, 30-25 victory. The Bruins upped their record to 5-12 overall, 2-5 in the NWC. Willamette moved to 4-13 on the season, 0-7 in the NWC.

The match began with a thriller for the first game. Willamette trailed 4-2 early in the contest, but eventually rallied for 27-23 lead. GFU pulled with 28-26 following a block by Amy Knight and Elizabeth Anderson. Ashlie Keimig committed a serving error on the next play, as the Bearcats moved within one point of winning the game.

After the Bruins rebounded to tied the score at 29-29, Willamette took a 30-29 lead on a kill by Mary Butler (So., Robbins, CA/Yuba City HS). The Bearcats also led 31-30 and 32-31, before GFU took a 33-32 lead.

Julie Stutzman (Fr., OH, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) tied the game at 33-33 with a kill. Sarah Crossfield countered with a kill for GFU to give the Bruins a 34-33 lead. George Fox, which registered 6.0 team total blocks during the game, scored the next point on block assists by Knight and Holly Hutchinson.

The first game featured six game points for the Bearcats and two game points for the Bruins. The opening game also included 46 digs by Willamette and 41 digs by GFU. Other statistics from Game #1 included: 78 attacks by the Bruins and 77 attacks by Willamette; one block solo and 10 block assists for GFU and seven block assists for the Bearcats; 19 kills for Willamette and 18 kills for George Fox.

In the second game, the Bruins broke a 17-17 tie with three consecutive points, including two kills by Knight. Willamette scored the next point on a kill by Stutzman, but the Bruins answered with seven unanswered points on their way to the 30-20 win.

Willamette produced 18 kills and only seven attacking errors in the third game, as the Bearcats claimed a .212 hitting percentage and a 30-22 win. Brooke Smith (So., RS, Glide, OR/Glide HS) led WU with five kills during the game, while Butler and Jordyn Smith (Jr., RS, Las Vegas, NV/Green Valley HS) each contributed four kills. Willamette held a 3-1 lead early in the game and remained in front until the Bearcats forced the match into Game #4.

The fourth game was close most of the way, with neither team achieving a lead greater than two points until George Fox won four points in a row for a 25-22 lead. WU moved within one point, 26-25, after Jessica Durham (So., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) earned a service ace. The Bruins completed the match by scoring the next four points.

Willamette provided the Cone Field House crowd with some of its most athletic plays of the season, including a number of impressive digs. Alona Lyamin (Jr., LIB/DS, Moses Lake, WA/Moses Lake Christian Academy/Big Bend CC) led all players with 30 digs. Christine Dion (Fr., DS/RS, San Jose, CA/Presentation HS/University of Portland) added 18 digs. Edyth Lee-Barnes (Fr., OH/RS, Corvallis, OR/Corvallis HS) contributed 15 digs, Stutzman tacked on 13 and Durham provided 11.

Stutzman topped the Willamette statistical chart with 15 kills, while Butler provided 14 kills. Brooke Smith chipped in nine kills, as the Bearcats registered 63 kills as a team. Smith also supplied a team-high six total blocks, while Jessica Drumm (Jr., S, Salem, OR/South Salem HS) recorded 24 assists and Brittany Ashby (So., S, Federal Way, WA/Decator HS) earned 18 assists. The Bearcats achieved 11 service aces, with nine players contributing to the total.

For George Fox, Hutchinson led the way with 16 kills and a .414 hitting percentage. Elizabeth Anderson pounded out 14 kills and seven total blocks, while Jennifer Panico chipped in 11 kills and 18 digs. Karina Philliber accumulated a team-high 27 digs. Knight contributed 24 digs and 39 assists.

The Bruins were credited with a total of 59 kills. GFU claimed a .167 hitting percentage on 210 attacks, compared to a .111 hitting percentage and 226 attacks for the Bearcats.

Willamette remains at home to take on the University of Puget Sound in a Northwest Conference match on Saturday, Oct. 7. Game time at Cone Field House in the Sparks Center is set for 7 p.m. (PDT).