Whitman Outlasts Willamette for NWC Victory in Five Sets

Fincher Registers 21 Kills for Bearcats

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

WALLA WALLA, WASH. -- For the second consecutive night, Willamette University lost a close volleyball match in five sets, as Whitman College defeated the Bearcats, 3-2, on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Sherwood Center. Whitman prevailed, 19-25, 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 15-12.

The Missionaries upped their record to 4-11 overall, 2-0 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette dropped to 4-7 on the season, 0-2 in the NWC.

One day earlier, Whitworth University defeated the Bearcats, 3-2, including a 15-12 score in the decisive fifth set. In that match, Willamette trailed 2-0, before rallying with wins in the third and fourth sets.

On Saturday, Willamette rallied from a 2-1 deficit to force a fifth set, before the Missionaries registered the win. Whitman was led by Jillian Davis with 20 kills and by Megan Bafus with 15 kills and a .400 hitting percentage.

Also earning double-digit kills for Whitman were Rachel Cline with 13 and Shae Kanakaole with 11. Kanakaole led all players on both teams with 24 digs. Hannah Linsenmayer finished with 19 digs.

Willamette received a match-high 21 kills from Sarah Fincher (So., OH, Reno, NV/Bishop Manogue HS/Southwest Baptist Univ.). Carly Hargrave (Sr., MH, Happy Valley,OR/Clackamas HS) supplied 12 kills.

Shannon Waltz (Sr., Honolulu, HI/La Pietra School for Girls) added nine kills, a .389 hitting percentage and four block assists. Setter Emily Compton (Sr., Portola, CA/Portola HS/Boise State Univ.) contributed 53 assists, while Lizzy Balding (Sr., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) registered 21 digs.

In the first set there were five ties and three lead changes in the first 17 rallies. After trailing 8-7, Willamette tied the score for the final time, and then moved in front on an attacking error by Cline. Another attacking error by the Missionaries, plus a combo block by Waltz and Kirsten Brehmer (Sr., MH/OPP, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS), extended WU's lead to 11-8.

The Bearcats added two more points for an overall run of six consecutive points. Whitman used a 6-2 run to cut the margin to 15-14, but the Bearcats maintained the lead for the rest of the set. Four straight points for Willamette increased the margin to 19-14, and the Missionaries never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

Willamette's 25-19 win was answered by Whitman with a 25-20 triumph.

The Missionaries held a 14-13 advantage in the second set before four consecutive points gave Whitman a five-point cushion. Willamette pulled within 20-18 on a kill by Fincher, but Whitman ended the set with a 5-2 run.

During the third set the teams combined for 12 ties and eight lead changes. The set was close most of the way, although Willamette held a 9-6 lead after Fincher supplied back-to-back-kills. WU also led 12-9 on a kill by Waltz.

Both teams had 20 points late in the set, but Whitman took control by winning four consecutive rallies. Davis and Cline each provided one kill on either side of an attacking error by Willamette. The fourth point was on a service ace by Hannah Linsenmayer. The Bearcats pulled within 24-21 on a kill by Fincher, but Natalia Zea responded with a kill for Whitman.

In the fourth set, a kill by Alexa Dowdell (Fr., MH/OPP, Mililani, HI/Maryknoll HS) gave the Bearcats a 6-5 lead and Willamette never relinquished control. WU held leads to 14-9, 17-12 and 22-17 before winning the set, 25-21.

There were four ties in the first eight rallies of the fifth set.

The Missionaries then took a 6-4 lead on back-to-back kills from Davis. Several points later, Whitman held a 9-5 margin. WU pulled within 9-8, but four straight points for Whitman, ending with a kill by Bafus and a service ace by Davis, gave the Missionaries a 13-8 lead. WU reduced its deficit to 14-12, but Bafus earned a kill for the final point of the match.

Whitman earned 64 kills and a .211 hitting percentage, while also achieving 14.0 team total blocks. Zea and Madeline Belle each recorded six block assists, while Bafus added five. Willamette pounded out 59 kills and hit .178.

Up next for Willamette is a road match at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., on Friday, Sept. 27. The NWC match is slated to start at 7 p.m. (PDT). Willamette is scheduled to play its home opener in the Bearcats' 13th match of the season on Saturday, Sept. 28 against Pacific Lutheran University at 7 p.m. (PDT).


Whitman College 3
Willamette University 2
Whitman won 19-25, 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 15-12

Emily Compton provided the Bearcats with 53 assists and 14 digs.

Emily Compton provided the Bearcats with 53 assists and 14 digs.