Willamette Hits .292 as Bearcats Down Whitworth, 3-1

Leenstra Earns 12 Kills, 13 Digs and 5 Block Assists

By Timothy Walsh, Athletics Communications Writer

SALEM, ORE. -- Willamette University hit .292 and achieved 47 kills, as the Bearcats defeated visiting Whitworth University, 3-1, on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Cone Field House. The Bearcats prevailed, 25-15, 25-11, 21-25, 25-14.

Willamette improved to 7-12 on the season, 5-7 in the Northwest Conference. Whitworth dropped to 7-12 overall, including 3-9 in the NWC.

Madisyn Leenstra (Sr., OH/MH, Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) led the Bearcats with 12 kills, only one attacking error and a .344 hitting percentage. She also earned 13 digs and five block assists. Carly Hargrave (Jr., MH, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) supplied 10 kills to go with eight block assists, while Elisa Ahern (So., OPP, Lake Forest Park, Wash./Shorecrest HS) added nine kills, five digs, and four block assists.

Lizzy Balding (Jr., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) topped the Bearcats defensively with 19 digs on the evening. Emily Compton (Jr., S, Portola, Calif./Portola HS) contributed 37 assists.

Jalana White paced Whitworth with 12 kills, while Nicole Leonard achieved a match-high 22 digs. Maddye Dinsmore produced 30 assists along with 14 digs for the Pirates.

In the first set, Willamette raced out to an 8-2 lead, helped by a series of Whitworth attacking errors. The Pirates rallied to pull within 9-6, but a pair of Leenstra kills helped spark the Bearcats to a 17-9 advantage. Willamette closed out the set with three consecutive points, including a kill from Shannon Waltz (Jr., MH, Honolulu, HI/La Pietra School) that sealed a 25-15 win.

The second set began as a much more back-and forth affair, but another Waltz kill snapped a 5-5 tie and sparked the Bearcats to a 6-0 run. Danica Reed (Sr., OH, Arvada, Colo./Ralston Valley HS) contributed two service aces during that stretch, as Willamette seized control of the set for good.

Later in the set, the Bearcats used a 9-0 spurt to push their advantage to 23-9.  Hargrave registered two kills and teamed with Ahern on a pair of blocks during the run. Another kill by Reed, coupled with a service error by Whitworth's Anna Buck, clinched the set for Willamette, 25-11.

The Pirates rallied in a much more even third set, as Buck's service ace gave Whitworth an early 6-2 lead. The Bearcats quickly tied the score, even taking a brief leads at 8-7 and 9-8, although Katie Adams' service ace two rallies later restored Whitworth's advantage. Later, a kill from Leenstra brought Willamette within 17-16.

Whitworth rattled off four straight points, pushing the Pirates' lead to 21-16. The Bearcats were unable to close that gap, and Whitworth sealed a 25-21 third-set victory.

In set number four, Willamette scored the first four points: kills from Leenstra and Hargrave sandwiched around a Waltz service ace and a Whitworth attacking error. From there, Bearcats never looked back, stretching their lead first to 13-6, then to 18-9 as Waltz fired another ace.

Willamette's advantage reached double digits when Ahern registered her eighth and ninth kills of the night for leads of 21-11 and 24-13, respectively. Reed sealed the Bearcats' set and match victory with a kill of her own.

The Bearcats will head to Tacoma next weekend for matches at the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University. Earlier this year, Willamette scored a 3-2 upset victory over UPS at Cone Field House, and will shoot for a similar result when they take on the Loggers at 7:00 p.m. (PDT) on Friday, Oct. 26. The Bearcats will match up with the Lutes at the same time on Saturday, Oct. 27.


Willamette University 3
Whitworth University 1
Willamette won 25-15, 25-11, 21-25, 25-14

Elisa Ahern earned 9 kills, 5 digs and 4 block assists for the Bearcats.

Elisa Ahern earned 9 kills, 5 digs and 4 block assists for the Bearcats.