Bearcats Rally Past Northwest Christian for 3-2 Road Win

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

EUGENE, ORE. -- Willamette University received 17 kills each from Kelley Lindstrom (Jr., OH, Banks, OR/Banks HS) and Jessica Durham (Jr., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) and the Bearcats rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Northwest Christian College, 3-2, in a non-conference volleyball match on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Willamette recorded the victory by scores of 30-21, 28-30, 26-30, 30-27 and 15-13. The Bearcats improved to 3-14 on the season, while Northwest Christian fell to 9-9.

Lindstrom and Durham spearheaded WU's attack. Lindstrom also provided a .324 hitting percentage. Julie Stutzman (So., MB, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) added 12 kills and hit .258. Brooke Smith (Jr., RS, Idleyld Park, OR/Glide HS) earned eight kills and a .429 hitting percentage. Clare Chedester (Jr., LIB/DS, Encinitas, CA/San Dieguito Academy) led all players on both teams with 27 digs.

Overall, five WU players finished with more than 10 digs. Following Chedester were Edyth Lee-Barnes (So., RS, Corvallis, OR/Corvallis HS) and Christine Dion (So., LIB/RS, San Jose, CA/Presentation HS/U. of Portland) with 16 digs apiece. Durham tacked on 15 digs and setter Brittany Ashby (Jr., Federal Way, WA/Decator HS) contributed 14 digs to go with 57 assists.

In the fifth game, NCC scored first and held a 2-1 margin, but WU rallied to tie the decisive contest, 6-6. The Bearcats then scored four consecutive points to take charge of the game. WU's run featured back-to-back aces by Chedester for the ninth and 10th points.

The Beacons cut the lead to 10-8. WU tallied the next point and eventually led 13-9. Three consecutive attacking errors by Willamette enabled NCC to get within 13-12, but Lindstrom followed with a kill for the Bearcats to put WU at match point. Howard registered a kill for the Beacons, before Lindstrom provided Willamette with another kill to end the match, with the 'Cats winning the final game, 15-12.

For NCC, Melissa Bishop achieved 15 kills, while Cotie Howard supplied 14 kills. Ashley Blanchfill added 11 kills and 18 digs. Cassie Bishop produced a team-high 22 digs, with Mercedes LeClaire providing 20 digs. Alex Jee had 26 assists and Meaghan Hunt earned 24 assists.

WU pounded out 69 kills and hit .197 as a team, while holding NCC to 63 kills and a .161 hitting percentage. The Bearcats had 10 service aces and 15 serving errors, but committed just three ball-handling errors, compared to 11 by the Beacons.

Willamette held a 4-2 advantage in the first game, but eventually trailed 9-8. The Bearcats went up 11-9 on a service ace by Dion. Willamette also led 14-10, following kills by Dion and Stutzman, plus an ace by Durham.

The 'Cats extended their lead to 20-14, before Northwest Christian scored three straight points, ending with an ace by Ashley Blanchfill, to cut the advantage to 20-17. Willamette responded to the challenge by going on a 6-0 run to take charge of the game. WU's lead was reduced to 26-20 by three NCC points in a row, but the Bearcats countered with three points of their own on the way to a 30-21 win.

In the second game, Willamette held a 10-7 lead after an ace by Lindstrom. NCC tied the score at 10-10 on an ace by Cotie Howard. The Bearcats moved into the lead with three consecutive points, but the Beacons answered with an 8-2 run for an 18-15 advantage.

WU was within two points three times, the last at 22-20, before the Beacons took a 25-21 lead. Willamette pulled within 27-26 and 29-28 on attacking errors by Howard, but the Beacons took a 30-28 win with a kill by Blanchfill.

The Bearcats achieved an early lead in the third game at 4-2. Northwest Christian rallied to move in front, 7-6, but WU led 13-11 after a kill by Durham and held a 15-13 advantage on a kill by Lindstrom.

NCC regained the lead with three consecutive points to start an 8-3 run. After building a 21-19 margin, the Beacons added a 6-2 offensive surge for a 27-21 edge. Willamette scored four points in a row to get back in the game, as Lindstrom and Jordyn Smith (Sr., RS, Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS) provided kills, followed by an ace from Lee-Barnes and an attacking error by Melissa Bishop of NCC.

Blanchfill added a kill for the Beacons, then WU won the next rally to pull within 28-26. NCC ended the game with a kill by Melissa Bishop and a WU setting error.

The Beacons surged out to leads of 3-1 and 7-4 in the fourth game. NCC also held a 14-9 margin after an ace by Tessa Greatwood. Willamette used a 3-0 run on kills by Stutzman, Durham and Lee-Barnes to get within 14-12 and later tied the game at 16-16.

Willamette eventually took its first lead of the game at 24-23 on a ball-handling error by the Beacons. After NCC tied the game on the ensuing rally, WU put up four points in a row, including kills by Lindstrom and Christina McGilvray (Fr., MB, Cove, OR/Cove HS) for a 28-24 lead. The Beacons pulled within 28-27, but WU won the game on a kill by Durham and another NCC ball-handling error.

The Bearcats will play for the second night in a row when they host Linfield College in a Northwest Conference match on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Cone Field House. Match time is slated for 7 p.m. (PDT).

BOX SCORE

Willamette University 3
Northwest Christian College 2
Willamette Won 30-21, 28-30, 26-30, 30-27, 15-13