Willamette Shows Improved Play against 14th-Ranked Linfield

McMINNVILLE, ORE. -- Willamette University started slowly in the first game of its match against Linfield College on Wednesday, Oct. 25, but the Bearcats showed during the remainder of the contest that they aren’t the same group of players the Wildcats defeated twice in September. Although the Wildcats defeated WU for the third time, 30-20, 30-27, 30-23, it was a more difficult match for 14th-ranked Linfield, as Willamette showed the inspired play that took another nationally-ranked team, Pacific Lutheran University (ranked 21st), to five games on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Linfield improved its record to 18-2 overall, including 11-2 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette fell to 4-19 overall, 0-13 in the NWC.

For the second consecutive match, sophomore outside hitter Kelley Lindstrom (Banks, OR/Banks HS) reached double digits in kills. Against PLU, she amassed 19 kills. In the match at Linfield, she added 17 kills and a .361 hitting percentage. In the two matches, she contributed 36 kills and had just 11 errors on 82 total attacks. Her combined hitting percentage since the start of the PLU match is .305.

Julie Stutzman (Fr., OH, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) joined Lindstrom in double figures against the Wildcats, as she provided 10 kills and a .286 hitting percentage. Stutzman leads the Bearcats this season with 236 kills and is averaging 2.9 kills per game.

Willamette also received 19 digs from Alona Lyamin (Jr., LIB/DS, Moses Lake, WA/Moses Lake Christian Academy/Big Bend CC) and 33 assists from Jessica Drumm (Jr., Salem, OR/South Salem HS). Edyth Lee-Barnes (Fr., OH/RS, Corvallis, OR/Corvallis HS) contributed 12 digs, while Mary Butler (So., MB, Robbins, CA/Yuba City HS) earned one block solo and two block assists.

Linfield was led by Lauren Kreiger, who recorded 15 kills, hit .400 and provided 15 digs. Katelyn Baker added 12 kills and Kelsey French provided 10 kills. The Wildcats placed five players in double figures for digs. Kreiger was matched at 15 digs by Chelsey Gellatly, while Michelle Wyatt and Meghan Flink registered 11 digs apiece. Hannah Veley was credited with 10 digs. Setter Chelsey Gellatly accumulated 33 assists.

The Wildcats trailed 2-0 to start the opening game, but led 10-4 and 15-7 on their way to a 30-20 victory. Kreiger claimed eight kills during the first game, while French and Baker each added four kills.

In its earlier wins over the Bearcats, Linfield held Willamette under 60 points: 56 points scored on Sept. 2 and 57 points scored on Sept. 27. Even with the troubles encountered by Willamette in the first game on Wednesday, the Bearcats scored 70 points in the third meeting.

Willamette led for most of the second game, including 13-10 following a service ace by Lindstrom. Later, a kill by Butler resulted in a 21-17 lead. The Bearcats also scored four of the next six points to build a 25-19 advantage. Linfield rallied by scoring nine consecutive points, including three kills by French and one service ace by Wyatt. Willamette pulled within 28-26 on a kill by Lindstrom, but the Wildcats tallied two of the next three points to win the game, 30-27.

The third game began with Linfield surging out to an 8-3 lead. LC also led 15-7 following an kill from French and 24-14 on a kill by Kreiger. Willamette battled back and eventually cut the margin to five points, 26-21, on a spike by Stutzman. Linfield held on for the win, with Vuylsteke providing the kill at match points for a 30-23 win.

Lindstrom recorded eight kills for Willamette in the second game and provided six kills in the third game. Stutzman was WU’s top attacker in Game #3, as she contributed seven kills. The two players combined for 13 kills and just two errors on 24 attacks (.458 hitting percentage) during the third game.

Willamette will play its final home match of the season on Saturday, Oct. 28, when the Bearcats host Lewis & Clark College at Cone Field House. Match time is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PDT).