Bearcats Fall to 16th-Ranked Pacific Lutheran, 3-0

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Pacific Lutheran University, ranked #16 in NCAA Division III, received 11 kills from Beth Hanna and 10 kills from Kelsie Moore, as the Lutes defeated Willamette University, 25-17, 25-19, 25-22, at Cone Field House on Friday, Nov. 7. With the victory, PLU concluded the regular season at 20-6 overall, 14-2 in the NWC. Willamette went to 6-19 overall, 4-11 in the NWC, with one match remaining on the Bearcats' schedule.

Willamette will finish its season on Saturday, Nov. 8 against George Fox University. Match time in Newberg, Ore., is set for 7 p.m. (PST).

Pacific Lutheran has clinched the NWC Championship and an automatic NCAA Tournament berth. The Lutes will find out later this month where they will play in the NCAA Tournament.

In Friday's match, Willamette was led by Jessica McGraw (Jr., OH, Gaston, OR/Yamhill Carlton HS/Corban College), who contributed a match-high 13 kills and also earned 16 digs. Jessica Durham (Sr., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) tacked on 10 kills, while setter Christine Dion (Sr., San Jose, CA/Presentation HS) supplied 24 assists and a team-high 17 digs.

Willamette battled early in all three sets and kept the score close for most of the second and third sets. Even so, Pacific Lutheran gained an edge each time.

During the first set, Willamette was in front 7-5 before an 11-1 run by PLU gave the Lutes a 16-8 margin. The run by the Lutes ended with eight consecutive points. WU was unable to overcome the run and fell 25-17.

The second set was tied 9-9 after 18 points. The Lutes scored the next two points, but the Bearcats stayed within striking distance.

Willamette tied the score at 17-17 and 18-18, but PLU scored the next three points. An attacking error by the Lutes reduced the lead to 21-19. Three kills by Hanna helped Pacific Lutheran win four rallies in a row to end the threat.

The 'Cats owned leads to 8-7 and 13-12 in set #3. The teams were tied six times during the frame, including 14-14 after an attacking error by Hanna.

PLU countered with a 6-2 run for a 20-15 advantage. The Bearcats eventually used a 4-0 run of their own to pull within 24-22. Wu's run featured two kills and a service ace by McGraw, plus a kill by Durham. PLU registered the next point to win the match.

Four Lutes finished with double-digit totals in digs. Brenna Arichibald earned 14 digs, while Moore provided 13. Sarah Beaver and Hanna each recorded 12 digs. Beaver also achieved 21 assists for PLU. The Lutes hit .204 for the match, including .294 in set #1 and .310 in set #2.

PLU held a slim 35-33 edge in total kills, but the Lutes limited the Bearcats to a .100 hitting percentage. Nonetheless, Annika Moffett (Fr., OH, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) of Willamette hit .235, with four kills and no attacking errors on 17 total attacks. McGraw claimed a .162 hitting percentage, recorded two block assists and connected for two serving aces for the Bearcats.

The match was the final home contest for four seniors on the Willamette squad. Clare Chedester (S/LIB, Encinitas, CA/San Dieguito Academy), Christine Dion (S, San Jose, CA/Presentation HS/University of Portland), Jessica Durham (OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) and Kelley Lindstrom (MB, Banks, OR/Banks HS) were honored prior to the first set.

Pacific Lutheran University 3
Willamette University 0
25-17, 25-19, 25-22
Jessica McGraw blasted seven of her match-high 13 kills in set #3.

Jessica McGraw blasted seven of her match-high 13 kills in set #3.