Bearcats Knock Out Boxers in NWC Volleyball, 3-0

Blankenship Earns 18 Kills

By Sara Elcano, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University volleyball team defeated the visiting Pacific University Boxers in straight sets, 28-26, 25-20 and 25-23 on Friday, Sept. 24. Several Willamette players performed well to help the Bearcats win their second straight Northwest Conference match.

The win moved Willamette to 6-6 overall, 2-1 in the NWC. Pacific dropped to 1-10 on the season, 0-3 in the NWC.

Molly Blankenship (Sr., OH, Spokane, WA/Spokane Falls CC) led Willamette with 18 kills and a .531 hitting percentage. She made just one attacking error on 32 total attacks. Carly Hargrave (Fr., MH, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) and Madisyn Leenstra (So., MH/OH, Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) each contributed five kills for the Bearcats. Hargrave also achieved a .417 hitting percentage.

WU setter Emily Compton (So., S, Portola, CA/Portola HS/Boise State Univ.) provided 35 assists. Willamette hit .274 as a team, while Pacific earned a .210 hitting percentage.

Danica Reed (So., OH, Arvada, CO/Ralston Valley HS) seemed to step-up for Willamette when the Bearcats needed it most. The sophomore had four timely serving aces that provided a surge of momentum for WU. Reed also had four kills and six digs.

The first set was close throughout before Blankenship smashed back-to-back kills to break a 26-26 tie and give the Bearcats a 1-0 lead.

The Boxers were able to stay within a few points in the second set before Willamette pulled away near the end. Willamette held a 21-20 lead before the Bearcats got back-to-back-to-back kills from Reed, Blankenship and Leenstra to pull ahead 24-20. An attacking error by Pacific gave the Bearcats a 25-20 victory in the second set.

The Bearcats obtained a lead of six points multiple times during the third set. Pacific did not go down easily, however, and battled back from a 24-20 deficit to pull within one point at 24-23. With a crowd of over 300 Willamette fans on their feet, Mertens knocked home the winning kill.

For the Boxers, Kelsy Takashima produced 14 kills and a .417 hitting percentage. Alexa Block earned nine kills. Danica Thompson supplied 34 assists and Jade Thompson earned a match-high 17 digs.

Willamette will host the University of Puget Sound on Saturday, Sept. 25. Match time is set for 7 p.m. (PDT). The match is also Lymphoma Cancer Awareness Night. Fans are encouraged to wear lime green to the match to show their support for a worthy cause.

Puget Sound enters the match with a 7-4 overall record and a 2-1 record in the NWC. The Loggers defeated Linfield College in straight sets on Friday, Sept. 24.

Willamette University 3
Pacific University 0
28-26, 25-20, 25-23
Emily Compton earned 35 assists, six digs and two block assists in Willamette's 3-0 win over Pacific.

Emily Compton earned 35 assists, six digs and two block assists in Willamette's 3-0 win over Pacific.