Bearcats Upend Linfield in Five-Set Thriller

WU Storms Back to Take Sets Four and Five in Victory

By Brandon Chinn, Student Assistant Athletics Communications Director

McMINNVILLE, ORE. -- After dropping the third set and falling behind 2-1 against Linfield College Friday night Sept. 27, it appeared likely to most at Ted Wilson Gymnasium that Willamette was on the brink of dropping yet another hard-fought Northwest Conference showdown.

But the Bearcats, having demonstrated their resiliency all season long, refused to fold.

After routing the Wildcats in the fourth set, Willamette rallied to take set five, and the overall match.

With the victory, the Bearcats improved their record to 5-7, 1-2 in NWC. Linfield fell to 4-6, 0-3 in NWC.

The match started off back and forth with Linfield possessing a slight advantage. The Wildcats underwent the first real run of the set, rolling off four consecutive points to take a 13-8 lead.

Trailing 19-12, the Bearcats came all the way back to tie the game at 20 on a Linfield attacking error. Linfield promptly responded to Willamette's rally, scoring five points in a hurry to take set one, 25-21.

Linfield again jumped out to an early lead, this time leading by as much as five at 6-1. Having scored first in the set, the Wildcats controlled the lead clear until the 17 point mark, when another attacking error knotted the score.

Trailing 21-19 later in the set, the Bearcats went on a scoring run and grabbed hold of a lead they would not relinquish.

After scoring three consecutive points on kills by Shannon Waltz (Sr., MH, Honolulu, HI/La Pietra School for Girls), Lindsey Compton (So., OH, Portola, CA/Univ. of Hartford) and Kirsten Brehmer (Sr., OH, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS), Willamette claimed a 22-21 lead.

Two Linfield attacking errors later the Bearcats were just one point away from victory. That moment came quickly, as Compton provided another kill to seal the deal.

The Wildcats responded to their set two defeat in a big way, controlling the scoreboard from start to finish in the third set. Behind 21-12, Willamette went on a 7-2 run to close the deficit to 23-19. It wouldn't be enough, however, as Linfield scored the next two points for the win.

With no room for error, it was Willamette that jumped out to a big lead in set four.

Kills early on from Alexa Dowdell (Fr., MH, Mililani, HI/Maryknoll HS), Compton and Sarah Fincher (So., OH, Reno, NV/Southwest Baptist Univ.) helped set the tone for Bearcat dominance.

WU eventually stretched its lead to as many as 12 after a kill by Riley Fawcett (Fr., OH, Normandy Park, WA/John F. Kennedy HS) and a service ace by Dowdell stretched the score to 21-8.

Willamette continued rolling, taking the final four points in a 25-8 victory to force a winner-take-all fifth set.

Linfield bounced back from a poor showing in set four to score the first three points in the fifth set. But after a kill by Carly Hargrave (Sr., MH, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) tied the game at five, two consecutive blocks by Taylor Lum (Fr., MH, Honolulu, HI/Maryknoll HS) and a kill by Fincher moved Willamette in front, 8-6.

Linfield battled back to knot the game at nine, setting up an intense sprint to the finish.

As the tension grew, several members of the Willamette team came up big.

Fincher, Dowdell and Compton combined for three straight kills, putting WU ahead, 12-9.

Up 14-10, just one point away from Willamette's biggest win of the season, Compton delivered yet another emphatic kill to cement the win.

For the Bearcats, Fincher produced a match-high 13 kills. Compton finished the match with nine kills, four of which came in the fourth set or later.

Willamette also received plenty of contributions from their younger players. Alida Holt (Fr., OH, Honolulu, HI/Roosevelt HS) put forth her best game as a Bearcat, recording six kills to go along with a .462 hitting percentage.

In the back row, Emily Compton (Sr., S, Portola, CA/Boise State Univ.) notched 43 assists while Lizzy Balding (Sr., LIB, Honolulu HI/Punahou School) tacked on 21 digs.

The Bearcats will look to continue their winning ways on Saturday, Sept. 28 when they host Pacific Lutheran University in their 2013 home-opening match. Match time is set for 7:00 p.m.

Score

Willamette University 3
Linfield College 2
Willamette won 21-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-8, 15-10

Sophomore transfer Lindsey Compton tallied nine kills for the Bearcats, including four in the final two sets.

Sophomore transfer Lindsey Compton tallied nine kills for the Bearcats, including four in the final two sets.