Whitworth Outlasts Willamette in Five-Set Thriller at Cone Field House

Waltz Achieves 15 Kills and a .625 Hitting Percentage for Bearcats

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

SALEM, ORE. -- Whitworth University won the first two sets, but Willamette University rallied to win the next two sets before the Pirates prevailed by the slimmest of margins in the final set, 18-16, in a Northwest Conference volleyball match at Cone Field House on Friday, Oct. 18.

Whitworth won the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-19. Willamette took the next two sets, 25-18 and 25-23. The final set featured 10 ties plus two match points for each team. After a 16-16 tie, the Pirates scored two consecutive points to record the win on a kill by Nicole Leonard.

Leonard led all players with 20 kills and also earned 17 digs, while the Pirates' libero, Whitney Santos, achieved a match-high 30 digs. Jalana White added 19 kills and Kristine Kardell contributed 13 kills. Maddye Dinsmore provided Whitworth with 62 assists, while Anna Buck earned 20 digs.

Willamette was led by outside hitter Sarah Fincher (So., Reno, NV/Bishop Monague HS/Southwest Baptist Univ.) with 16 kills and by middle blocker Shannon Waltz (Sr., MH, Honolulu, HI/La Pietra School for Girls) with 15 kills. Fincher also registered 13 digs, while Waltz hit .625 with no attacking errors and finished with five block assists.

Kirsten Brehmer (Sr., MH/OPP, Evergreen, CO/Evergreen HS) pounded 14 kills to go with 15 digs for the Bearcats. Setter Emily Compton (Sr., Portola, CA/Portola HS/Boise State Univ.) attained 49 assists and 10 digs, while Alida Holt (Fr., OH, Honolulu, HI/Roosevelt HS) supplied a team-high 21 digs.

After winning the third set by a comfortable margin and claiming a narrow victory in the fourth set, Willamette owned momentum. The Bearcats started the fifth set with a 4-0 run, including a kill by Fincher, a service ace by Compton that hit the net cord, a block by Waltz and Brehmer, and an attacking error by Whitworth.

The Pirates rallied to eventually tie the score at 6-6 on a kill by White. Willamette held three one-point leads before taking a 10-8 advantage on a service ace by Carly Hargrave (Sr., MH, Happy Valley, OR/Clackamas HS). Whitworth won the next two points for a 10-10 tie.

Willamette kept edging in front and the Pirates kept re-tying the game over the next 10 points. Along the way, Willamette held a match point at 14-13, but a kill by White kept Whitworth in the match. Hargrave answered with a kill for the Bearcats, giving Willamette a 15-14 lead.

On the next rally, Fincher pounded an attack toward the back left portion on Whitworth's side of the court, but the ball landed just beyond the end line. With the set tied 15-15, the Pirates move in front on a kill by Kristine Kardell. After a timeout, Fincher put down a kill to tie the game again at 16-16.

Dinsmore provided a kill from her setter position on the next point, giving the Pirates a 17-16 lead. Following the side-out, Dinsmore served. Willamette returned the serve with an attack by Waltz. Leonard earned an attack for Whitworth and Holt added one for the Bearcats, before Leonard ended the match with her 20th kill.

The first set had 10 ties. Willamette opened with a 5-1 surge, but Whitworth tied the set four rallies later. The Pirates went on to hold a 10-7 lead, only to have Willamette tie the score at 12-12 on a block by Brehmer and Waltz. Willamette owned a three-point edge at 18-15, before Whitworth countered with a 3-0 run.

Willamette attained leads of 20-18 and 22-20, but Whitworth used a 4-0 run to reach set point. A serving error by Dinsmore pulled the Bearcats within 24-23, but the Pirates won the next point on an attacking error by Willamette.

The Pirates built a 10-4 lead in the second set on their way to a 25-19 win. In the third set, Willamette used an 8-2 run to take an 18-10 margin and went on to win 25-18.

During the fourth set, the teams battled through 11 ties and five lead changes. Willamette gained some separation at 19-14 after an attacking error by Whitworth. The Pirates, however, battled back and tied the game 19-19.

Willamette held a 21-20 advantage before kills by Dinsmore, Kardell and Leonard put the Pirates up 23-21. The Bearcats rallied for the next four points. Kills by Hargrave and Waltz tied the set, while back-to-back service aces by Hargrave -- the second ace hit the net cord -- won the set 25-23.

The Bearcats will play at home again on Saturday, Oct. 19 against Whitman College at 5 p.m. (PDT). Prior to the match, the Bearcats will honor the 1995 Willamette volleyball team, which will be inducted into the Willamette University Athletic Hall of Fame later Saturday night. Brandi Row Lazzarini ('96), who played on the 1995 team, also will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

BOX SCORE

Whitworth University 3
Willamette University 1
The Pirates won 25-23, 25-19, 18-25, 23-25, 18-16

Post-match Interviews

Shannon Waltz earned 15 kills with no attacking errors and a .625 hitting percentage.

Shannon Waltz earned 15 kills with no attacking errors and a .625 hitting percentage.