Bearcats Rally from Two-Sets Down to Defeat Whitman, 3-2

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University was off its game in the first two sets, but improved over the final three frames, as the Bearcats rallied past Whitman College for a 23-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-18, 15-9 victory on Saturday, Oct. 18 at Cone Field House.

Willamette won its third consecutive Northwest Conference match and improved to 6-14 on the season, 4-6 in the NWC. The Bearcats also won their second 5-set match in as many nights. The Bearcats defeated Whitworth University 3-2 on Friday.

Whitman fell to 0-19 overall, despite building a 2-0 lead after two sets. The Missionaries dropped to 0-10 in the NWC.

Jessica Durham (Sr., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) of Willamette led all players with 19 kills. Jessica McGraw (Jr., OH, Gaston, OR/Corban College) provided the Bearcats with 16 kills and a team-high 22 digs. Kelly Lindstrom (Sr., MB, Banks, OR/Banks HS) added 12 kills.

Christine Dion (Sr., DS/S, San Jose, CA/University of Portland) also made important contributions for WU. She had 19 digs and earned two serving aces. Kellie Menghini (Fr., LIB/DS, Anchorage, AK/South Anchorage HS) supplied the 'Cats with 17 digs.

Whitman's top attacker was Alex Graves, who earned 18 kills to go with 23 digs. Katie Miller connected for 16 kills and 14 digs. Kelsie Butts of Whitman led all players with 24 digs.

Willamette never got into a rhythm during the first set. The Bearcats scored three points in a row just two times during the set, once to tie the score at 5-5, and later to pull within 24-23. After WU got within a point, Miller provided the Missionaries with a kill to end the set. The 'Cats hit .250 during the frame, but did not record a block, as Whitman hit .276.

In the second set, Whitman continued to succeed on offense, as the Missionaries achieved a .333 hitting percentage with 14 kills and just two attacking errors. Meanwhile, WU was limited to a .143 team hitting percentage. The Bearcats trailed 21-18, before going on a 3-1 run to get within a point at 22-21. The teams split the next two points, then Whitman closed out the set with one kill each by Graves and Katie Richards.

The Bearcats were in front by four points at 16-12 in set #3, but Whitman countered with a 4-0 run to tie the score. An attacking error by Miller of Whitman gave WU the lea, 17-16. Later, Willamette's advantage reached 21-17 on a kill by McGraw. After the Missionaries scored their 18th point, the Bearcats concluded the set with a 4-0 run for a 25-18 win.

Willamette recorded another 25-18 victory in the fourth set. Durham contributed five kills and Lindstrom pounded out four kills to spark the attack. The Bearcats also benefited from four serving aces, while Whitman committed four serving errors. Willamette trailed 11-10 during the set, but used a 9-2 run take charge.

Whitman scored the first point of the fifth set, but Willamette won the next three. The Missionaries responded with a 3-0 run to take a 4-3 advantage. WU registered the next five points, including two kills by Durham, to claim an 8-4 lead.

The Bearcats extended the margin to seven points at 12-5, with the last three points earned while Durham was serving. Whitman cut the lead to 13-8, but could not get any closer. An attacking error by Whitman moved WU to match point, which was provided two rallies later on a kill by McGraw.

Willamette hit .316 in the final set with seven kills and one attacking error, as the Bearcats finished with a .207 hitting percentage for the match. Whitman earned a .171 hitting percentage overall, but hit just 0.68 in the third set and 0.50 in the fifth set.

WU recorded eight serving aces and committed 14 serving errors. The Missionaries had seven aces and 17 serving errors. Setter Clare Chedester (Sr., Encinintas, CA/San Dieguito Academy) provided the 'Cats with 54 assists. Richards recorded 33 assists for Whitman.

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 3
Whitman College 2
23-25, 22-25, 25-18, 25-18, 15-9.
Jessica McGraw led WU with 22 digs and also provided 16 kills.

Jessica McGraw led WU with 22 digs and also provided 16 kills.