Bearcats' Rally Falls Just Short in Five-Set Loss to Whitworth

Hargrave leads team with 12 kills, while Waltz earns .421 hitting percentage

By Brandon Chinn, Student Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SPOKANE, WASH. -- After digging themselves into a two-set deficit in their Northwest Conference opening match, the Willamette University Bearcats stormed all the way back to force a decisive fifth and final set Friday night against Whitworth University. In the fifth set, the Pirates answered back with a rally of their own, scoring five of the set's final seven points to clinch the 3-2 victory.

Whitworth improved its overall record to 7-6, 1-0 in NWC, while Willamette fell to 4-6, 0-1 in NWC.

The Pirates jumped out to a 15-11 lead in the initial set, prompting WU Head Coach Tom Shoji to call an early timeout. The Bearcats responded, receiving two consecutive kills by Carly Hargrave (Sr., MH, Happy Valley,OR/Clackamas HS) and back-to-back attack errors by Whitworth to knot the game at 15.

Later in the match, the Bearcats grabbed hold of their first lead since the 1-0 mark after a kill by Lindsey Compton (So., OH, Portola, CA/Portola HS/Univ. of Hartford) and another Pirates attacking error pushed the score to 21-20.

With the set tied at 22-22, however, Whitworth scored two consecutive points before ultimately taking the set, 25-23.

Willamette looked as if it had something to prove, jumping out to a 8-4 lead to start the second set. Narrowing the deficit after a kill by Briauna Stadeli, Whitworth benefited from three consecutive attacking errors to tie the score at eight.

The Pirates gathered momentum as the set rolled on, building an 18-16 lead. It didn't last long, as Hargrave came through with a kill and service ace, while Shannon Waltz (Sr., MH, Honolulu, HI/La Pietra School for Girls) contributed consecutive kills to give WU a 21-19 advantage.

Whitworth fought back to tie the set at 23-23. After both teams spent time exchanging points, the Pirates eventually captured set #2, which featured nine lead changes, 27-25.

Having just missed out on victory in the previous two sets, the Bearcats demonstrated their resiliency coming out of the intermission. Willamette jumped out to a 12-6 lead to begin the third set and extended its lead to as many as nine points at 21-12. A possible Whitworth rally was held off by the Bearcats, as the team cruised to an easy 25-17 victory.

Attempting to force the match to a winner-take-all fifth set, Willamette fell behind 11-7 in set #4. Once again, however, a Willamette timeout sparked a rally and four consecutive points, evening the score at 11 apiece. The Bearcats stole a brief lead at 18-16, but Whitworth battled back to obtain a 23-20 lead.

Just two points away from defeat, the Bearcats clawed their way back. A combination of kills from Sarah Fincher (So., OH, Reno, NV/Bishop Manogue HS/Southwest Baptist Univ.) and Kirsten Brehmer (Sr., OPP, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS), along with three attacking errors from Whitworth, allowed Willamette to come from behind for a 25-23 win.

Willamette's momentum continued into the fifth set, as the team quickly jumped ahead 4-1. Whitworth fought back to take a 10-9 lead, but a kill by Waltz knotted the set at 10.

As the tension rose at Whitworth Fieldhouse, the Pirates gained control and scored four of the set's next five points. The Bearcats added one point of their own to pull within 14-12, but Whitworth wrapped up the heavily contested match with the next point to come away triumphant, 15-12.

In the hard fought defeat, the Bearcats were led in kills by Hargrave, who recorded a season-high of 12. She also finished with a hitting percentage of .333. Fincher, Compton and Waltz all totaled 10 kills apiece, with Waltz leading all players with a match-high .421 hitting percentage.

Defensively, Lizzy Balding (Sr., Lib., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) led all Willamette players with 18 digs in the match.

Whitworth's Jalana White led all players with 20 kills, but finished with a hitting percentage of just .125. Maddye Dinsmore produced a match-high 56 assists, while Whitney Santos led all players with 22 digs.

Willamette will look to bounce back on Saturday, Sept. 21 when the Bearcats wrap up their weekend road trip against Whitman College. Match time in Walla Walla, Wash., is set for 6 p.m. (PDT).

Results

Whitworth University 3
Willamette University 2
Whitworth won 25-23, 27-25, 17-25, 23-25, 15-12

Senior Carly Hargrave notched 12 kills and a .333 hitting percentage for Willamette on Friday night.

Senior Carly Hargrave notched 12 kills and a .333 hitting percentage for Willamette on Friday night.

Senior Shannon Waltz led all players with a match-high .421 hitting percentage. She also tallied 10 kills.

Senior Shannon Waltz led all players with a match-high .421 hitting percentage. She also tallied 10 kills.