Whitworth Holds Off Bearcats for 3-1 Win

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Whitworth University held off Willamette University to take a 3-1 victory in a Northwest Conference match on Friday, Sept. 21 at Cone Field House. Whitworth won the first game, 30-18, but the rest of the match was a battle. The Pirates eventually prevailed, 30-18, 28-30, 30-26, 30-27.

Whitworth improved to 7-4 on the season, including 2-1 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 2-9 overall, 0-3 in the NWC. The teams are now 1-1 in head-to-head matches. Willamette defeated the Pirates, 28-30, 30-27, 30-27, 30-26, during the Whitworth Invitational on Sept. 8.

It appeared Willamette would force a fifth game in the rematch, as the Bearcats built a 27-22 lead in Game #4. Whitworth, however, recorded eight consecutive points -- the last seven with Jill Solbrack serving -- to win the game and complete the match. Tracy Schwada spearheaded the Pirates' run by recording two kills, two block assists and a block solo.

The rally overcame a solid Game #4 by the Bearcats, including seven kills from Kelley Lindstrom (Jr., OH, Banks, OR/Banks HS) and six kills from Jessica Durham (Jr., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford). Willamette also had 22 digs during the game, compared to 16 digs for Whitworth.

Overall, the Pirates were led by a match-high 23 kills from Sarah Rusch, who made only five attacking errors on 49 attacks. For Willamette, Lindstrom (Jr., OH, Banks, OR/Banks HS) finished with 22 kills and achieved a .289 hitting percentage.

Julie Stutzman (So., MB, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) added 15 kills and hit .333 for the Bearcats . Durham provided 13 kills and 18 digs. Junior setter Brittany Ashby (Federal Way, WA/Decator HS) supplied 51 assists, while Edyth Lee-Barnes (So., OH/RS, Corvallis, OR/Corvallis HS) contributed 20 digs. Also earning double-digit digs for Willamette were Clare Chedester (Jr., LIB, Encinitas, CA/San Dieguito Academy), with 19, and Jordyn Smith (Sr., RS, Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS), with 18.

Joining Rusch with double-figure kills for Whitworth was Schwada, who achieved 12 kills and produced a .300 hitting percentage. Holly Ridings and Cassie Moore each topped the Pirates with 22 digs. Ridings also earned 34 assists, while Solbrack added 11 assists.

In Friday's first game, the Pirates held a 15-14 lead, then went on a 9-1 run to build a 24-15 advantage. Willamette scored the next point, but Whitworth closed out the game by winning six of the final nine points.

At the start of the second game, the Bearcats trailed 6-2 and 10-6. Willamette countered with an 8-1 run for a 14-11 lead. Willamette eventually led 22-14, before the Pirates battled back to tie the game at 28-28 on a service ace by Solbrack. The Bearcats scored the final two points of the game on an attacking error by Whitworth and a kill by Lindstrom.

The third game was close throughout, with 10 ties and four lead changes. Whitworth moved in front for good at 26-25 on a kill by Rusch. The Pirates tacked on three more points, but Willamette fended off a game point, as Lindstrom added another kill. Rusch responded with a kill for Whitworth to end the game, 30-26.

The Bearcats and the Pirates combined for 11 ties and five lead changes in the fourth game. The final tie occurred at 18-18, prior to a 9-4 run by Willamette that featured two kills apiece from Stutzman, Durham and Lindstrom. Willamette led 27-22 after the run, but Whitworth's decisive eight-point rally followed, as the Pirates won the match.

Willamette remains at home to take on Whitman College on Saturday, Sept. 22. The NWC match between the Bearcats and the Missionaries is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. (PDT).

Whitworth University defeated Willamette University, 30-18, 28-30, 30-26, 30-27 - Box Score

Kelley Lindstrom earned 22 kills and a .289 hitting percentage against Whitworth on Sept. 21.

Kelley Lindstrom earned 22 kills and a .289 hitting percentage against Whitworth on Sept. 21.