Bearcats Rally to Force Fifth Game, but Whitman Prevails, 3-2

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

WALLA WALLA, WASH. -- Willamette University dropped the first two games of its Northwest Conference volleyball match on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Whitman College. The Bearcats rallied to win the next two games to force a deciding fifth game in the match, but the Missionaries won the final game to defeat Willamette, 30-18, 30-21, 26-30, 23-30, 15-10, at the Sherwood Center.

Whitman's record moved to 11-9 overall and to 7-5 in the NWC. Willamette, which has lost five 5-game matches this season, including four in conference play, fell to 3-18 overall, 0-12 in the NWC. The Bearcats' only victory in a 5-game match so far this season was at Northwest Christian College on Oct. 9.

The Missionaries surged out to a 20-10 lead in the first game and held a 16-11 lead in the second game. Willamette was unable to rally in either game, as Whitman built its 2-0 lead.

Willamette trailed early in the third game, but took an 8-7 lead on a service ace by Brittany Ashby (Jr., Se, Federal Way, WA/Decator HS) and remained in front until the Bearcats claimed a 30-26 win. At one point in the game, Julie Stutzman (So., MB, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) served four consecutive points won by the Bearcats, starting with back-to-back aces for a 19-13 lead. Whitman pulled within 26-25 on an combo block by Rosa Brey and Katie Richards, before WU closed out the game with a 4-1 run.

In the fourth game, Willamette was in the lead except for a 2-1 deficit and three early ties. A kill by Jessica Durham (Jr., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) gave WU the lead for good at 5-4. WU extended its lead to 17-11 after two kills in a row by Ashby, and the Bearcats led 19-12 following a setting error by the Missionaries. WU's 30-23 win forced the fifth game.

The Bearcats took a 3-2 lead in Game #5 on a block by Stutzman and Kelley Lindstrom (Jr., OH, Banks, OR/Banks HS). Three points later, the game was tied at 4-4, then Whitman went on a 3-0 run. WU cut the lead to a single point at 7-6 on a kill by Christina McGilvray (Fr., MB, Cove, OR/Cove HS).

Kills by Leslie Compean and Brey gave Whitman a 9-6 lead. Willamette added two rallies of its own on kills by Durham and Jordyn Smith (Sr., Rs, Henderson, NV/Green Valley HS) to get within 9-8, but three consecutive points for Whitman gave the Missionaries a 12-8 advantage.

An attacking error by Lydia Hayes of Whitman allowed WU to reduce the lead to 12-10. The Missionaries closed the match with another 3-0 run, including a kill by Brey for a 14-10 lead and a kill by Hayes at match point.

Brey led all players with 30 kills during the match. She also hit .410 and had 61 total attacks. Compean tallied 17 kills for the Missionaries, while Hayes added 14 kills. Kaelyn Merkel provided Whitman with 23 digs and setter Kristan Brown contributed 63 assists.

Durham topped Willamette's offensive chart with 14 kills. She also earned 16 digs and four service aces. Lindstrom and Jordyn Smith each registered 11 kills. Smith also hit .375.

The Bearcats benefited from a match-high 24 digs by Clare Chedester (Jr., LIB/DS, Encinitas, CA/San Dieguito HS). Ashby, Willamette's setter, finished the match with 46 assists, eight kills and five digs. She had no hitting errors on 18 total attacks, as she achieved a .444 hitting percentage.

Willamette's next match is set for Tuesday, Oct. 23 at Cascade College. Match time in Portland, Ore., is slated for 7:30 p.m. (PDT).

Willamette University 2
Whitman College 3
Whitman College won 30-18, 30-21, 26-30, 23-30, 15-10
Jessica Durham led Willamette with 14 kills against Whitman College on Oct. 20. Durham also recorded 16 digs.

Jessica Durham led Willamette with 14 kills against Whitman College on Oct. 20. Durham also recorded 16 digs.