Puget Sound Escapes with Win Over Bearcat Volleyball, 3-2

By Sara Elcano, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University volleyball team pushed the match to five sets against the University of Puget Sound on Saturday, Sept. 25, but the Loggers won, 21-25, 25-22, 25-11, 22-25, 15-6. Willamette is now 6-7 overall and 2-2 in the Northwest Conference. Puget Sound climbed to 8-4 overall and 3-1 in the NWC.

Approximately 225 fans were in attendance to support the Bearcats on Lymphoma Cancer Awareness Night. Before the match, the team honored Bernice Johnston, mother of current Willamette player Josephine Johnston (MH, So., Florence, MT/Florence-Carlton HS). Johnston was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in June of 2009 and has since been declared in remission.

In the opening set, Willamette and Puget Sound battled back and forth throughout, exchanging the lead on six different occasions. With the score tied 17-17, Willamette went on a five-point run to grab a 22-17 lead. Emily Compton (So., S, Portola, CA/Boise State Univ.) served during the run for the Bearcats and had one serving ace.

Later, Jaci Abeloe (So., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) registered the set-winning kill for WU. Compton earned the assist on the play as the Bearcats won 25-21.

Once again, the second set was close all the way to the finish. The Loggers jumped out to an 8-4 lead and Willamette was never able to recover. The Bearcats clawed their way to within three points on multiple occasions but could not get over the early deficit.

The third set was one for Bearcat fans to forget. The Loggers hit .393 as a team compared to Willamette's -.111 hitting percentage. The Loggers won the set 25-11 to take a 2-1 lead.

Willamette was in a do-or-die situation in the fourth set, but the young team responded in a big way. Early in the set, the Bearcats led by four points, 6-2, as Compton provided solid serving for Willamette.

Even so, the Loggers did not make it easy for WU during the set. UPS gained the lead at 8-7 and also led an 11-8 edge. The Bearcats scored the next three points for an 11-11 tie, but fell behind 13-11 and 14-13.

Willamette rattled off three straight points to move back in front at 16-14. Kathy Lee Glenn (So., L, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) had one serving ace during the streak for WU.

The Bearcats held the lead for the rest of the set, but the Loggers pulled within 20-19 and 24-22. WU ended the set on a kill by Glenn from the back row. The Bearcats held UPS to a -.028 hitting percentage during the set while hammering home 12 kills of their own.

Puget Sound took control of the decisive fifth set from the beginning, as the Loggers surged out to a 7-2 lead. Attacking errors by the Bearcats and strong hitting by the Loggers eventually resulted in a 15-6 UPS victory. Brynn Blickenstaff and Natalia Monro registered three kills apiece for Puget Sound during the game.

Blickenstaff led the Loggers overall with 13 kills, 11 digs and two aces during the match. Erika Greene supplied 45 assists for the Loggers. As a team, UPS hit .205 and recorded 10 team total blocks.

Compton finished the night with 39 assists, two aces and nine digs for Willamette. Molly Blankenship (Sr., OH, Spokane, WA/Spokane Falls CC) had 14 kills and three block assists.

Outside hitter Danica Reed (So., Arvada, CO/Ralston Valley HS) contributed 10 kills and eleven digs. Freshman Carly Hargrave (MH, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) continued to play well for WU. Hargrave had seven kills and five block assists.

Willamette will host Lewis & Clark College on Wednesday, Sept. 29 in Cone Field House. The match will begin at 7 p.m. (PDT). The Bearcats split with the Pioneers last season as each team won on the road. L&C enters the contest having lost two matches in a row.

University of Puget Sound 3
Willamette University 2
21-25, 25-22, 25-11, 22-25, 15-6
Danica Reed achieved 10 kills and 11 digs in Willamette's five-set match against the Loggers.

Danica Reed achieved 10 kills and 11 digs in Willamette's five-set match against the Loggers.

Carly Hargrave (#7) and Molly Blankenship (#1) battle a Puget Sound player at the net.

Carly Hargrave (#7) and Molly Blankenship (#1) battle a Puget Sound player at the net.