Willamette Ends NWC Losing Streak in Volleyball

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

WALLA WALLA, WASH. -- The Willamette University volleyball team put behind nearly three years of frustration in Northwest Conference action, as the Bearcats defeated Whitman College, 26-28, 25-15, 25-21, 25-14, on Saturday, Sept. 20 to end a 44-match losing streak in NWC play. Kelley Lindstrom (Sr., OH, Banks, OR,Banks HS) led the Bearcats with 11 kills and a .474 hitting percentage.

Willamette improved to 3-9 on the season, 1-1 in the NWC. Whitman dropped to 0-11 overall, 0-2 in the NWC.

WU's last conference win prior to Saturday was a 3-2 victory over Pacific University on Sept. 30, 2005, in a home match at Cone Field House in Salem, Ore. WU lost the final 12 games of the 2005 season, before going 0-16 in both 2006 and 2007. The 'Cats lost their first NWC match of the 2008 season at Whitworth on Friday, before winning at Whitman to stop the streak.

The Bearcats fell behind the Missionaries with a loss in the first set, but won the next three sets to take the match. WU pounded out 43 kills and registered 78 digs, while Whitman finished with 39 kills and 74 digs. The Missionaries committed 16 serving errors and had only one service ace.

Willamette took a 4-1 lead in the first set and later held an 11-8 advantage. Whitman countered with a 5-0 run, aided by three WU attacking errors, to move in front, 13-11.

The 'Cats cut the lead to a single point several times, but the Missionaries used a 4-1 spurt to achieve a 22-18 margin. WU finally equalized the set at 25-25 on an attacking error by Katie Miller of WC. The teams exchanged the next three points, leaving Whitman in the lead, 27-26. Emily Nickels won the set for Whitman with a solo block.

WU shot out to an 11-4 lead and maintained a solid advantage throughout the second set. Whitman recorded just six kills during the set, while committing 12 attacking errors.

In the third set, the Bearcats built a 9-4 advantage and were in front 14-7 following a kill by Lindstrom. WC put together a 7-2 run to get within 16-14, but never got closer. Lindstrom contributed four kills during the set. The third set also featured seven of Whitman's serving errors.

The fourth set was tied 11-11 after a kill by Alex Graves of Whitman. Back-to-back kills by Annika Moffett (Fr., OH, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) gave WU a 13-11 lead. The Missionaries tallied the next point, but WU followed with a 7-1 run for a 20-13 margin. WC added the next point before the 'Cats completed the match with a 5-0 run.

Willamette hit .102 overall, including a solid .214 in the fourth set. Whitman earned a team hitting percentage of .069 during the match.

Lindstrom was the only Bearcat with a double-digit kill total, but Moffett amassed nine kills and Christina McGilvray (So., MB, Cove, OR/Cove HS) added seven. Six Willamette players each registered 10 or more digs, led by Jaela Dinsmore (Fr., DS, Hines, OR/Burns HS) with 15. Clare Chedester (Sr., S/LIB, Escinitas, CA/San Dieguito Academy) provided WU with 35 assists.

The Bearcats were credited with 6.0 team total blocks. McGilvray spearheaded the defensive efforts at the net, as she earned two block solos and two block assists.

Whitman received a match-high 17 kills from Alex Graves, who also led both teams with 22 digs. Kelsie Butts tacked on 15 digs, while setter Krystin Norman achieved 33 assists.

WU is scheduled to return to action on Friday, Sept. 26 in an NWC match at home against the University of Puget Sound. The first set is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. (PDT).

Willamette University defeated Whitman University, 26-28, 25-15, 25-21, 25-14

Kelley Lindstrom provided 11 kills and hit .474 to help WU defeat Whitman.