Willamette Wins Thrilling Match Against Corban, 3-2

By Sara Brooks, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6219

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University volleyball team needed some late magic to pull off a come-from-behind victory over cross-town rival Corban College on Tuesday, Sept. 15. After dropping the first two sets, the Bearcats rallied to take the final three sets and the match.

The first set was close from start to finish with WU never trailing by more than four points until near the end. Molly Blankenship (Jr., OH, Spokane, WA/Spokane Falls CC) led the way for the Bearcats, as she recorded five kills in the set.

Willamette appeared to be on its way to victory in the second set. At one point, WU held a 17-12 lead over Corban. However, Corban registered six straight points to take the lead at 18-17. WU had four attacking errors during Corban’s run.

With the score locked at 23-23, Corban recorded back-to-back kills to win the second set, 25-23. Blankenship and Josephine Johnston (Fr., MH, Florence, MT/Florence-Carlton HS) each had four kills during the set for Willamette.

In the third set, the Bearcats found themselves trailing 16-8 and down two sets. After winning the next point, the 'Cats received a boost when Jessie McGraw (Sr., OH, Gaston, OR/Yamhill-Carlton HS/Corban College) entered the game to play defense. McGraw, who missed WU's match on Saturday (Sept. 12) with Warner Pacific College due to injury, quickly served WU to three consecutive points, including two service aces.

Corban scored the next point for a 17-12 lead, but the Bearcats rallied with six straight points to take the lead at 18-17. During the run, Nicole Mertens (OH, Fr., Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) and Johnston each had a kill. Corban recorded four hitting errors.

WU trailed 23-22 in the third set before a kill by Blankenship tied things up. The Bearcats got a huge kill from Madisyn Leenstra (OH, Fr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) to take a 24-23 led. Willamette closed out the set on another Corban attacking error.

Willamette’s momentum carried over into the fourth set, when the Bearcats jumped on the Warriors early. WU claimed a 7-3 lead and did not relinquish it the entire set. Once again, Blankenship led the way for the Bearcats with six kills in the set.

In the fifth and decisive set, Willamette continued to roll, starting off the set with a 5-2 advantage. Annika Moffett (OPP, So., Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) recorded an ace during the run to help the Bearcats to their early lead.

Corban battled back to make things interesting. The cross-town rivals battled back and forth until Corban took a 13-12 lead. A bad set by Corban was all the momentum that Willamette needed to turn things around. With Moffett serving, the Bearcats ran off four straight points to win the set and the match. Moffett provided another serving ace during the run and Mertens recorded the final kill for the Bearcats.

Blankenship led the way for the Bearcats with 21 kills and two blocks. Brigit Miller (S, Fr., Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) had a huge game for WU with 38 assists, eight digs, six blocks and three kills. Johnston had nine kills and five blocks.

Kathy Lee Glenn (Lib., Fr., Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) added 14 digs and two aces for the Bearcats. McGraw provided WU with solid defense and passing. She also registered seven digs.

The Bearcats had a .166 hitting percentage for the match while the Warriors hit .140. Each team recorded 49 kills. Willamette finished the game with ten blocks, eight aces, 45 assists and 55 digs.

Chandra Baskoro was the top attacker for Corban, as she finished with 14 kills to go with 14 digs. Tiffany Land added 10 kills for the Warriors. Rebecca Frank matched Baskoro with 14 digs, while Karisa Calderon earned 27 assists.

Willamette moves to 3-5 on season while Corban drops to 2-9. The Bearcats will open Northwest Conference play at Whitman College on Sept. 18. Willamette defeated Whitman twice during the 2008 season. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. (PDT).

Willamette University 3
Corban College 2
21-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-18, 15-13
Jessie McGraw entered the match on defense during the third set and gave WU a lift as the Bearcats rallied for the win.

Jessie McGraw entered the match on defense during the third set and gave WU a lift as the Bearcats rallied for the win.