WU Volleyball Ends Season on High Note, Defeats Whitman, 3-2

Blankenship Finishes with 19 Kills and 21 Digs

By Sara Elcano, Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University volleyball team ended the season with a 3-2 victory over Whitman College on Saturday, Nov. 6. The Bearcats won 18-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21, 15-11. Willamette concludes the season 9-16 overall and 5-11 in the Northwest Conference. Whitman finishes at 8-18 overall and 5-11 in the NWC.

Senior Molly Blankenship made her last match as a Bearcat one of her best. Blankenship earned a match-high 19 kills and tied for match-high honors with 21 digs. She added one block solo, five block assists and one serving ace.

Willamette and Whitman battled through five games with 35 ties and 15 lead changes. There were 12 ties and six lead changes in the opening set before Whitman took control near the end.

After trailing 18-17, the Missionaries ran off eight straight points to win 25-18. Whitman blocked Willamette's final two attacks to earn the victory.

The second set belonged to WU from the start. Willamette hit .294 during the set and got six kills from Blankenship. Consistent blocking by the Bearcats limited Whitman to just a .057 hitting percentage.

Whitman picking up its serving in the third set and tallied five aces to help the Missionaries earn a 25-22 win. The Bearcats outhit the Missionaries in the game .189 to .130, but errors on serve receiving proved to be costly.

Trailing 2-1 after the third set, Willamette battled through a game that saw eight ties and four lead changes before winning to force a fifth set. The Bearcats trailed 20-17 before Shannon Waltz (Fr., MH, Honolulu, HI/La Pietra HS) smashed a kill down the middle to keep Willamette's hopes alive.

An attacking error by Whitman pulled Willamette to within one at 20-19. Jillian Davis earned a kill for Whitman to move the score to 21-19, but that point would be Whitman's last.

Willamette scored the final five points of the set to force the fifth and decisive frame. Madisyn Leenstra (So., M, Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) and Carly Hargrave (Fr., MH, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) each had a key kill for the Bearcats near the end of set #4.

Whitman held a 5-2 lead after the opening points of the final set. WU tied the score by winning three rallies in a row, and then the team's played back-and-forth.

With a 12-11 advantage, Willamette was able to capitalize on a service error and a ball handling error by Whitman. Willamette looked to Blankenship for the match-winning point and the senior delivered, as the Bearcats won the final set, 15-11.

Setter Brigit Miller (So., Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) finished with a match-high 32 assists. Hargrave finished with 11 kills and six block assists. Waltz added one solo block, four block assists, two service aces and eight kills. Willamette collected 12 team blocks. The Beasrcats hit .116 as a team.

Whitman was led by Jillian Davis. Davis recorded 15 kills and tied for match-high honors with 21 digs. The Missionaries finished with 14 team blocks and a .060 hitting percentage. They tallied 10 aces but made 12 service errors.

BOX SCORE
Willamette University 3
Whitman College 2
18-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21, 15-11
Senior Molly Blankenship recorded 19 kills and 21 digs for Willamette.

Senior Molly Blankenship recorded 19 kills and 21 digs for Willamette.