Willamette Outlasts Whitworth for 3-2 Victory

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Senior outside hitter Jessica Durham (Medford, OR/North Medford HS) connected for 21 kills and provided Willamette University with 18 digs, leading the Bearcats to a 3-2 Northwest Conference volleyball win over Whitworth University on Friday, Oct. 17 at Cone Field House. Durham helped Willamette rally from an early one-set deficit to take the match 19-25, 25-15, 25-15, 17-25, 15-12.

The Bearcats improved to 5-14 on the season, including 3-6 in the Northwest Conference. Whitworth dropped to 11-10 overall, 4-5 in the NWC. Willamette is eighth in the NWC standings, but the Bearcats are just one match out of a tie for fifth place.

Whitworth won the first set by hitting .359 and accumulating 17 kills, compared to nine kills for the Bearcats. The Pirates held a slim 11-9 lead, but scored four of the next five points for a 15-10 advantage.

Willamette never got closer than four points during the remainder of the set. Ka'ipo Rocha recorded six kills and Kaimi Rocha added five for the Pirates.

In the second set, Willamette had the attacking edge, with a .467 hitting percentage and 16 kills. Whitworth hit only .107 and achieved eight kills. Willamette bolted out to a 7-2 lead, and later held an 18-10 advantage, before winning by 10 points. Durham registered seven kills in the set, while Jessica McGraw (Jr., OH, Gaston, OR/Corban College) contributed four kills for the 'Cats.

Willamette also won the third set by a 25-15 margin. The Bearcats trailed 3-2 early in the set, but scored the next five points.

Kelley Lindstrom (Sr., MB, Banks, OR/Banks HS) started the run with a kill, then Durham added a service ace. McGraw recorded the next point with a kill, and setter Clare Chedester (Sr., Encinitas, CA/San Dieguito Academy) completed the rally with back-to-back kills.

The five consecutive points started a 9-1 run by Willamette that gave the 'Cats an 11-4 edge. Willamette later owned a 24-11 margin before Whitworth tallied four points in a row. McGraw ended the set with a kill for the Bearcats.

It was Whitworth that surged out to a 9-4 lead in set #4. Willamette got as close at 16-11, but the Pirates scored four of the next five points for a 20-12 margin. Four different Whitworth players achieved three kills during the set, as the Pirates hit .290 on their way to a 25-17 win.

Willamette scored the first two points of the fifth set on a kill by Christina McGilvray (So., MB, Cove, OR/Cove HS) and a service ace by Kellie Menghini (Fr., DS/LIB, Anchorage, AK/South Anchorage HS). The Bearcats also owned leads of 4-1 and 7-4.

After Whitworth scored the next point, the 'Cats added to their margin with a 6-1 run for a 13-6 lead. Durham belted three kills during the run, while Annika Moffett (Fr., OH, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) added two kills and McGraw contributed one.

The Pirates answered with a 6-0 run of their own to pull within 13-12. The run ended when Nikki Bardwell committed a serving error.

Chedester served for Willamette at match point. The ball never returned to Willamette's side of the net, as Whitworth was called for a ball-handling error. The Bearcats won the set, 15-12.

Durham's 21 kills and 18 digs led all players. McGraw tacked on 15 kills and 17 digs for Willamette, while McGilvray provided 10 kills to go with a .429 hitting percentage. Chedester supplied 47 assists.

Ka'ipo Rocha topped Whitworth's attack with 15 kills and a .500 hitting percentage. Kaimi Rocha and Holly Tomlin finished with 13 kills apiece. Bardwell and libero Alli Giusti each earned 13 digs, while Kaimi Rocha was credited with 12. Jordon Hoffnagle achieved 25 assists and Bree Riddle totaled 19 assists.

Both teams ended the match with solid numbers on offense. Willamette accumulated 62 kills with a .280 hitting percentage. Whitworth registered 57 kills and a .310 hitting percentage.

Willamette's victory over Whitworth was its second NWC win in a row. It is the first time the 'Cats have won back-to-back NWC matches since earning four victories in a row between Oct. 22 and Oct. 30, 2004.

The Bearcats will try to extend their current winning streak to three matches on Saturday, Oct. 18, when they host Whitman College. Match time at Cone Field House is set for 5 p.m. (PDT).

Willamette University 3
Whitworth University 2
19-25, 25-15, 25-15, 17-25, 15-12.
Jessica Durham led all players with 21 kills and 18 digs in Willamette's win over Whitworth.

Jessica Durham led all players with 21 kills and 18 digs in Willamette's win over Whitworth.