Pirates Edge Bearcats in Game #1, 34-32, on way to 3-1 Victory over Willamette

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

SPOKANE, WASH. -- Willamette University and Whitworth University opened their Northwest Conference match on Friday, Oct. 19 with a game that featured 20 ties and six lead changes. The Pirates, playing on their home floor at the Whitworth Fieldhouse, edged the Bearcats, 34-32, in Game #1 and went on to defeat Willamette in four games. The Bearcats won the second game, 30-28, but Whitworth took the next two games, 30-27 and 30-22.

The Pirates improved to 10-10 on the season, 5-6 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 3-17 overall, 0-11 in the NWC.

For the Bearcats, Julie Stutzman (So., MB, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) led the way with 19 kills, five digs and three total blocks. Jessica Durham (Jr., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) contributed 14 kills and 26 digs, while Kelley Lindstrom (Jr., OH, Banks, OR/Banks HS) added 12 kills and Clare Chedester (Jr., LIB/DS, Encinitas, CA/San Dieguito Academy) provided a match-high 28 digs.

Whitworth was paced by Sarah Rusch, who earned 18 kills and had seven total blocks. Holly Tomlin supplied 13 kills and a .333 hitting percentage for the Pirates. Cassie Moore earned 11 kills and 19 digs. Bethany Castilleja recorded 24 digs.

The opening game was a battle, as neither team led by more than three points. Whitworth took several two-point leads ranging from 12-10 to 21-19, but Willamette eventually claimed a 25-22 advantage when Durham registered back-to-back kills. The Pirates scored the next two points, before Christina McGilvray (Fr., MB/Cove, OR/Cove HS) of Willamette earned a kill to give the 'Cats a 26-24 lead.

Whitworth ran off three straight points to move in front. Stutzman tied the game with a kill, but Whitworth surged back in front at 29-27. Willamette survived two game points to tie the score at 29-29, and also tied the contest at 30-30. The Bearcats set up a game point of their own with a 31-30 advantage following an attacking error by Moore.

Kills by Moore and Tomlin gave the Pirates a 32-31 lead, but Edyth Lee-Barnes (Jr., RS, Corvallis, OR/Corvallis HS) of Willamette answered with a kill. Whitworth won the game with consecutive points on a kill by Nikki Bardwell and a service ace by Castilleja.

Willamette trailed 5-2 in the second game, but never trailed again on its way to a 30-28 win. The Bearcats used a 6-1 run to claim a 23-17 advantage. Willamette also led 28-22 after a kill by Lindstrom. Whitworth pulled within a single point at 29-28, before the Bearcats ended the game on a kill by Durham.

In the third game, Whitworth won 30-27 despite hitting just .070, while Willamette hit .118. The Pirates overcame the poor hitting by recording five service aces with no serving errors. A pair of aces by Moore helped Whitworth build a 5-0 lead. The Pirates also led 7-1 and later owned a 22-14 margin. Willamette battled back and cut the lead to 28-25, but couldn't catch the Pirates.

Whitworth registered 16 kills in the fourth game to complete the match. The Pirates trailed 13-11, but scored seven consecutive points to claim an 18-13 advantage. Willamette moved within four points at 19-15, but the Pirates tallied 11 of the next 18 points to win the game.

Overall, Willamette achieved 66 kills to just 60 for the Pirates, but the Bearcats had only four service aces and committed 12 serving errors. Whitworth had nine aces and just six serving errors. The Pirates also recorded 12.0 team total blocks on two block solos and 20 block assists.

Brittany Ashby (Jr., S, Federal Way, WA/Decator HS) of Willamette earned 50 assists to go with seven kills, eight digs and two aces. Holly Ridings supplied the Pirates with 49 assists, 18 digs and two block assists.

Willamette will remain on the road for a Northwest Conference match at Whitman College on Saturday, Oct. 20. Match time in Walla Walla, Wash., is scheduled for 5 p.m. (PDT).

Whitworth University 3
Willamette University 1
Whitworth University won 34-32, 28-30, 30-27, 30-22
Julie Stutzman (left) and Jordyn Smith go up for a block earlier this season.

Julie Stutzman (left) and Jordyn Smith go up for a block earlier this season.