Wildcats Squeeze Past Bearcats in Volleyball, 3-2

Blankenship Provides 20 Kills for Willamette

By Sara Elcano, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University Bearcats dropped a close match to the visiting Linfield College Wildcats, 3-2, on Friday, Sept. 17 at Cone Field House. Willamette came out strong but could not maintain the momentum throughout the match and Linfield won, 12-25, 25-21, 25-12, 23-25, 16-14.

The Bearcats moved to 4-6 overall and 0-1 in the Northwest Conference. Linfield improved to 4-6 overall and 2-0 in the NWC.

Madisyn Leenstra (MH, So., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) was superb in the first set for WU. She served 13 straight points for Willamette and had five aces during the impressive run. Linfield could not recover from the WU run and lost the set, 25-12.

Senior Molly Blankenship (OH, Spokane, WA/Spokane Falls CC) served well for Willamette in the second set and contributed three kills. However, it was Linfield's turn to capitalize on serving aces as the Wildcats prevailed, 25-21.

The Bearcats dropped the third set before rebounding to win the fourth. Danica Reed (So., OH, Arvada, CO/Arvada HS) started set #4 with a serving ace and Brigit Miller (So., S, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) provided some key serving to help WU earn the win. Linfield rallied to pull within a point at 24-23 but lost the final point of the set on a service error.

Things seemed to be going Willamette's way in the fifth and final set as the Bearcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the serving of Leenstra. The two teams eventually battled to a 14-14 tie. With the game on the line, the Wildcats got a kill from Tara Hill and their final point due to a Willamette attacking error.

Blankenship led all players with 20 kills. She added 13 digs and two block assists. Leenstra finished the match with six aces, four kills, one solo block and three block assists. Freshman Carly Hargrave (MH, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) also blocked well, as she added five block assists.

Miller and Emily Compton (So., Portola, CA/Boise State Univ.) split time as setters, earning 14 and 25 assists, respectively. Reed added 17 digs, 5 kills and two block assists.

Hill led Linfield with eleven kills. Samantha Lau had 36 digs and three aces for the Wildcats. Kelsey Ludin added nine kills, while Rosa Gimson provided seven kills and a .312 hitting percentage.

Willamette ended the match with 48 kills while Linfield had 45. Serving proved to be important for both teams. WU accumulated 13 aces compared to Linfield's 10 aces.

The Bearcats are back in action on Saturday, Sept. 18 in Newberg, Ore. Willamette will take on George Fox University at 7 p.m. in Northwest Conference action.

BOX SCORE
Linfield College 3
Willamette University 2
12-25, 25-21, 25-12, 23-25, 16-14
Molly Blankenship led all players with 20 kills. She also earned 13 digs for the Bearcats.

Molly Blankenship led all players with 20 kills. She also earned 13 digs for the Bearcats.