By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.), ranked #24 in the NCAA Division III Poll released by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), played a strong match against Willamette University at the Pamplin Sports Center on the campus of Lewis & Clark College during the first day of the Oregon Trail Classic on Friday, Sept. 1. The Gusties defeated the Bearcats, 3-0, winning 25-13, 25-18 and 25-13. Gustavus Adolphus went to 1-0 on the season. Willamette slipped to 0-2.
The Gusties compete in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), while Willamette competes in the Northwest Conference. Last season, Gustavus Adolphus went 9-2 in the MIAC during the regular season, won the MIAC Tournament and went on to compete in the NCAA Tournament.
On Friday, Lauren Hanson produced 11 kills and Hanna Albers tacked on 10 kills to spearhead GAC's offense. Hanson hit .308 and Albers hit .381, helping the Gusties achieve a .333 team hitting percentage. Brittany Luethmers led all players with 14 digs, while setter Nora Holtan amassed 37 assists.
The Bearcats were limited to 17 kills by the Gusties. Jaiden Mason (Fr., S/OPP, Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian School) paced the Barcats with five kills. Mason also contributed five digs and seven assists. Kendall Fox (So., OH, Dupont, WA/Steilacoom HS) ranked first on the team with nine digs. Morgan Webster (Jr., S/DS, Milwaukie, OR/Milwaukie HS) matched Mason with seven assists.
Willamette created a slim 5-4 lead in the first set on a blocking error by the Gusties that provided Webster with a kill. Gustavus Adolphus grabbed the next five points for a 9-5 advantage. The Gusties also owned a 14-7 margin after a kill by Hanson, but the Bearcats scored on three consecutive rallies to pull within 14-10. GAC won the next two points to start a 11-3 run that closed out the set.
The Gusties quickly took a 7-1 lead in the second set. Willamette eventually cut the deficit to 13-10 on a combo block by Lauren Stiles (So., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School) and Emma Liband (Sr., MH, Sandpoint, ID/Sandpoint HS) that completed a 9-6 run. Gustavus Adolphus won the next three rallies and held off the Bearcats the rest of the way.
WU will return to action in the Oregon Trail Classic on Saturday, Sept. 2, when the Bearcats will meet Olivet College (Mich) at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Match time is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. (PDT).