Bearcats Provide Solid Battle before Falling to 17th-Ranked Lutes

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

TACOMA, WASH. -- Willamette University put up a strong battle against 17th-ranked Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday, Oct. 10, but the Lutes were able to fend off the Bearcats for a 25-22, 25-22, 25-17 victory in Northwest Conference play at Olson Auditorium. PLU upped its record to 12-5 overall, 8-0 in the NWC. Willamette fell to 5-11 overall, 2-6 in the NWC.

The Bearcats kept up with the Lutes during the first two sets, as Willamette was within 22-20 in the first set and the teams were tied at 21-21 in the second set. Pacific Lutheran scored the next point in both sets and managed to build a 2-0 advantage. In the third set, PLU surged out to an 11-4 lead on its way to a 25-17 win.

Jessie McGraw (Sr., OH, Gaston, OR/Yamhill-Carlton HS/Corban College) topped the Bearcats with 12 kills and also provided a team-high 14 digs. Molly Blankenship (Jr., OH, Priest River, ID/Lamanna HS/Spokane Falls CC) contributed seven kills, while Brigit Miller (Fr., S, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) dished out 28 assists.

Kelli Menghini (So., LIB, Anchorage, AK/South Anchorage HS) and Annika Moffett (So., OPP, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) each recorded 10 digs for Willamette. The Bearcats earned 30 kills, hit .155 and made 44 digs.

Kelsie Moore led the Lutes with 13 kills and a .357 hitting percentage. Kelsy Joynt provided 12 kills, Beth Hannah achieved nine kills and 16 digs, and Brenna Archibald earned 15 digs.

Sarah Beaver supplied 41 assists and had a match-high three service aces for the Lutes. PLU finished with 47 kills, a .277 hitting percentage and 55 digs.

The Lutes held a 14-11 lead in the first set, but back-to-back points for the Bearcats, including a service ace by Miller, cut the margin to a single point. WU eventually tied the score at 17-17 on a PLU attacking error. The Lutes scored the next two points to start a 5-2 run for a 22-19 edge.

Blankenship provided a kill to get WU within two points, but Joynt registered two kills in a row to extend PLU's lead to 24-20. The Lutes won the set 25-22.

Another battle followed in the second set, as neither team led by more than three points. Willamette was in front 4-1 and 10-8, while the Lutes held leads of 13-11 and 21-18.

Willamette reeled off three consecutive points to tie the set at 21-21. Moore produced a kill and Beaver tacked on a service ace for Pacific Lutheran, before a kill by McGraw moved the 'Cats to within 23-22. Joynt earned a kill and Moore registered a serving ace to end the set.

PLU's early 11-4 advantage in the third set made it difficult for the Bearcats to rally. WU cut the lead to 13-8 on a kill by McGraw. The Lutes responded with a 4-1 run to increase the margin to 17-9. Each team scored eight points the rest of the way.

Willamette will return to action on Friday, Oct. 16, when the Bearcats host Whitworth University. Match time at Cone Field House in Salem, Ore., is set for 7 p.m. (PDT).

BOX SCORE
Pacific Lutheran University 3
Willamette University 0
25-22, 25-22, 25-17
Brigit Miller earns a dig. She supplied 11 assists on WU's 12 kills in set #2 and finished with 28 assists during the match.

Brigit Miller earns a dig. She supplied 11 assists on WU's 12 kills in set #2 and finished with 28 assists during the match.

Jessie McGraw (#24) achieved 12 kills and 14 digs against the Lutes.

Jessie McGraw (#24) achieved 12 kills and 14 digs against the Lutes.