Pacific Lutheran, Ranked #18, Takes Two Close Sets in 3-0 Win over Willamette

Leenstra Leads all Players with 14 Kills and a .407 Hitting Percentage

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- Pacific Lutheran University, ranked #18 in this week's NCAA Division III Poll released by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), defeated Willamette University in three sets on Saturday, Sept. 29, but the Lutes won very close battles in the first and third sets. PLU won the match, 26-24, 25-17, 27-25.

The Lutes improved to 12-2 on the season, 6-0 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette fell to 3-10 overall, 1-5 in the NWC.

Bethany Huston paced Pacific Lutheran with nine kills. Madisyn Leenstra (Sr., OH, Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) led Willamette with 14 kills and a .407 hitting percentage.

The first set featured 11 ties and three lead changes. WU rallied from a 10-7 deficit to take an 11-10 lead. Pacific Lutheran moved back in front at 13-12, and later held an 18-15 advantage following a kill by Amy Wooten.

Willamette fought back to tie the score at 23-23 on a combo block by Leenstra and Carly Hargrave (Jr., MH, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS). A service error gave PLU the lead, but an attacking error by the Lutes resulted in a 24-24 tie.

Two consecutive kills by Kelsey Pacolt gave Pacific Lutheran a 26-24 win.

The Lutes built an 11-3 margin in the second game and later owned a 21-9 lead. Willamette started a rally, eventually pulling within six points at 22-16, but the Bearcats couldn't overcome PLU's advantage. The Lutes prevailed 25-17.

WU surged out to leads of 4-0 and 8-4 in the third set. PLU tied the score at 10-10 and neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way.

After the score was tied at 23-23, an attacking error by the Lutes gave WU the lead. PLU tied the score and Willamette moved back in front, 25-24, on a kill by Leenstra. The Lutes closed out the match with a kill by Huston, a serving ace by Haley Urdahl and tandem block by Pacolt and Huston. PLU won the third set, 27-25.

Huston's nine kills led six Lutes with at least five kills during the match. Blair Bjorkman provided Pacific Lutheran with 17 digs, while Amber Aguiar added 14 digs. Setter Samantha North attained 30 assists, six kills, seven digs and five blocks.

Leenstra's 14 kills gave her 29 in WU's two matches this weekend. She earned 15 kills in the Bearcats' 3-2 upset of #10-ranked University of Puget Sound on Friday, Sept. 28. Leenstra committed just four total attacking errors during the two matches.

Shannon Waltz (Jr., MH, Honolulu, HI/La Pietra HS) tacked on six kills for the Bearcats, while Hargrave and Danica Reed (Sr., OH, Arvada, CA/Ralston Valley HS) each contributed five kills. Lizzy Balding (Jr., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) topped all players with 25 digs. Emily Compton (Jr., S, Portola, CA/Portola HS/Boise State Univ.) achieved 32 assists.

Although Leenstra attained a .407 hitting percentage, each team's defense helped limit the overall attacking success of the other team. PLU earned a .110 team attacking percentage, while Willamette registered a 0.82 team attacking percentage.

Willamette will play at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., on Friday, Oct. 5. Match time is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PDT).


Pacific Lutheran University 3
Willamette University 0
Pacific Lutheran won 26-24, 25-17, 27-25

Photo gallery
(By Naomi Stukey, Photographer for Willamette Athletics)

Danica Reed achieved five kills and five digs against the Lutes.

Danica Reed achieved five kills and five digs against the Lutes.