Whitworth Moves Closer to NWC Volleyball Championship, Defeats Willamette 3-0

By Sara Elcano, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- " The Whitworth University volleyball team defeated Willamette University, 3-0, on Friday, Nov. 5. The Pirates moved to 16-6 overall and 13-2 in the Northwest Conference. Whitworth clinched at least a tie for the NWC title and will clinch an outright championship with a win at Lewis & Clark College on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Whitworth is currently one-half match in front of Pacific Lutheran University (13-3) and one full match in front of the University of Puget Sound (12-3) in the NWC standings. The regular season ends on Saturday.

Willamette opened Friday's match with a kill by sophomore Madisyn Leenstra (M, Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) to grab a 1-0. However, the early advantage was Willamette's only lead during the opening set. The Pirates took control of the set as they ran off six straight points to earn a 6-1 lead.

The Bearcats outhit the Pirates in the opening set, .237 compared to .235. Whitworth had two key serving aces during the set that helped the Pirates pull away from Willamette.

The Pirates hit .244 as a team on their way to a 25-20 victory in the second set. The Bearcats were slowed by seven attacking errors. Whitworth was able to dump the ball over the net throughout the set and Willamette did not find a way to slow the Pirates.

Willamette could not find an answer to the sister duo of Ka'ipo Rocha and Kaimi Rocha in the third set, as they combined for eight kills. Ka'ipo Rocha finished the match with five kills and five block assists. Kaimi achieved a match-high 17 kills, three aces and 12 digs.

Willamette had three players finish the match with seven kills. They were Leenstra, Taylor Ottomano (Fr., OH, Poulsbo, WA/North Kitsap HS) and Shannon Waltz (Fr., MH, Honolulu, HI/La Pietra HS).

Emily Compton (So., S, Portola, CA/Boise State Univ.) and Brigit Miller (So., S, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) split time at setter for the Bearcats. Compton had 12 assists while Miller contributed 19. Kathy Lee Glenn (So., DS/LIB, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) led Willamette with 15 digs.

The final match of the season for the Bearcats will be against Whitman College at 6 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, Nov. 6. Willamette will honor senior Molly Blankenship (Spokane, WA/Spokane Falls CC) for her contributions to the WU program prior to the match.

Whitworth University 3
Willamette University 0
25-20, 25-20, 25-18
Madisyn Leenstra was one of three Bearcats who earned seven kills against the Pirates.

Madisyn Leenstra was one of three Bearcats who earned seven kills against the Pirates.