Willamette Rallies to Force a Fifth Set before Falling to #15 Pacific Lutheran

Leenstra Earns 15 Kills, Three Service Aces and Four Block Assists

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

TACOMA, WASH. -- Willamette University rallied from a 2-0 deficit against #15-ranked Pacific Lutheran University to tie the match, but the Lutes own the decisive fifth set to defeat the Bearcats, 3-2, on Saturday, Oct. 27. With the win, Pacific Lutheran upped its record to 19-4 overall, 13-1 in the NWC, while clinching at least a tie for the NWC title. Willamette fell to 7-14 overall, 5-9 in the NWC.

Pacific Lutheran won the match 25-19, 25-23, 12-25, 18-25, 15-6.

The statistics indicated a close match with nearly identical numbers for the two teams in many categories. Pacific Lutheran held a 59-53 edge in kills, but Willamette earned a .186 hitting percentage, while PLU hit .157 for the match. Both teams earned 99 digs and both teams accumulated 10.0 team total blocks.

Willamette finished with eight serving aces and five serving errors. PLU had seven aces and committed five serving errors.

Madisyn Leenstra (Sr., OH/MH, Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) topped the Bearcats with 15 kills to go with four block assist and three service aces. Shannon Waltz (Jr., MH, Honolulu, HI/La Pietra HS) provided WU with 11 kills, just one attacking error and a .455 hitting percentage. Waltz also achieved a team-high six total blocks.

Nicole Mertens (Sr., OH, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) achieved 10 kills, while Elisa Ahern (So., OPP, Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS) added nine kills.

Six Bearcats registered double-digit totals for digs. Elizabeth Balding (Jr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) led the way with 26 digs as the libero.

Setter Emily Compton (Jr., Portola, CA/Portola HS/Boise State Univ.) earned 18 digs, while contributing 44 assists. Ahern produced 16 digs, Mertens supplied 14, Kathy Lee Glenn (Sr., LIB/DS, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) added 11, and Leenstra tacked on 10.

Becca Holtgeerts set the pace for the Lutes with 20 kills, while earning a .459 hitting percentage. Chelsea Nelson added 13 kills and Bethany Huston provided 11 kills.

Five Lutes ended the night with more than 10 digs, led by Blair Bjorkman with 31, Nelson with 19 and Amber Aguiar with 15. Brianne Vincent stacked up 48 assists for the Lutes, while Haley Urdahl had three service aces.

PLU achieved 16 kills and hit .308 in the first set. The Lutes surged out to a 14-4 lead, but Willamette eventually cut the margin to 20-14 on a kill by Leenstra. Willamette didn't get closer until a kill by Carly Hargrave (Jr., MH, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS) pulled the Bearcats within 24-19. A ball-handling error by WU on the next rally provided the Lutes with the final point of the set.

The Lutes cooled off to .196 hitting in the second set, while Willamette hit .222, but the Lutes amassed a 17-12 advantage kills nonetheless on their way to a 25-23 win. The set was tied several time in the early going, although PLU held a 12-9 lead after a kill by Holtgeerts and never trailed again. Even so, the Bearcats tied the score at 22-22 with a kill from Leenstra.

Pacific Lutheran tallied the next two points with a kill from Holtgeerts and an attack from Nelson. Ahern registered a kill for Willamette to cut the lead to 24-23. Holtgeerts scored the set-winning point with another kill.

Willamette soared through the third set. The Bearcats built leads of 13-4 and 17-9 before settling in for a 25-12 win. WU rallied from a 13-11 deficit in the fourth set, using a 5-1 run to claim a 16-15 lead. After PLU tied the score with the next point, the Bearcats tacked on an 8-0 run to take command on their way to a 25-18 triumph.

The Bearcats tallied the first point of the fifth set on a kill by Leenstra and appeared to have taken a 2-0 lead on an attacking error by Holtgeerts. After conferring, the officials ruled that Willamette committed a blocking error on the play and PLU was awarded the point. Pacific Lutheran seemed to gain momentum from the call, as the Lutes recorded nine of the next 11 points for an 11-3 lead.

PLU closed out the match by winning the set, 15-9.

Willamette will close out the season with a pair of home matches next weekend. The Bearcats will play Lewis & Clark College on Friday, Nov. 2 and will play George Fox University on Saturday, Nov. 3. Both matches will be contested at Cone Field House starting at 7 p.m. (PDT) each night.

BOX SCORE

Pacific Lutheran University 3
Willamette University 2
Pacific Lutheran won 25-19, 25-23, 12-25, 18-25, 15-9

Shannon Waltz earned 11 kills and a .455 hitting percentage to go along with six total blocks against the Lutes.

Shannon Waltz earned 11 kills and a .455 hitting percentage to go along with six total blocks against the Lutes.