By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications, (503) 370-6110
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Willamette University amassed 31 kills and registered eight service aces in a 3-0 win over Johnson & Wales University (Colo.) in the first game of the Oregon Trail Classic on Friday, Aug. 31 at the Pamplin Sports Center on the Lewis & Clark College campus. The Bearcats won the match, 25-17, 27-25, 25-17, to start the season at 1-0. Johnson & Wales fell to 0-1.
Jennifer Lane (Jr., MH/OH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) and Natalie Klotz (Fr., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) each contributed seven kills for the Bearcats. Lauren Stiles (Jr., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School) added six kills, no attacking errors and a .400 hitting percentage. Stiles led WU with 13 digs, while Klotz aded 10 digs and six total blocks. Lane tacked on five total blocks. Jaiden Mason (So., S/OPP, Charlotte, NC/Charlotte Christian School) supplied the attack with 27 assists.
Brooke Paxton topped J&W with 12 kills and also provided 12 digs. Emmy Gazaway finished with a team-high 14 digs.
Willamette built a 4-1 lead in the first set following two kills by Lane and one kill from Klotz. The Wildcats eventually tied the score at 7-7 on a kill by Paxton, but Willamette tallied the next four points for an 11-7 edge.
J&W pulled within 11-10 three rallies later on a kill by Paxton. The Bearcats answered with a 5-0 run that began with a kill from Klotz, a service ace by Klotz and a kill by Mason. Back-to-back bad sets by the Wildcats completed the run. WU eventually extended the margin to eight points at 20-12 on a combo block by Mason and Lane. The Wildcats never got closer than six points the rest of the set. Paxton was blocked by Klotz and Lane to end the set with a 25-17 win for the Bearcats.
In the second set, Willamette kept the lead from 4-3 until the Wildcats tied the score at 20-20 on a service ace by Gazaway. Along the way, the Bearcats led 10-6 on a kill by Kendall Fox (Jr., OH, Dupont, WA/Steilacoom HS) and were in front 17-12 following a bad set by Johnson & Wales.
After being deadlocked at 20, the teams were tied four more times for a total of seven ties during the set. Willamette earned the first set point at 24-23, but an attacking error by the Bearcats allowed the Wildcats to equalize. WU also held a 25-24 advantage, but a combo block by Gazaway and Madi Fox kept J&W in the set.
A kill by Kyana Benjamin (So., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) of Willamette created a third set point at 26-25. Mason provided the winning point with a service ace.
The Bearcats surged out to a 12-1 advantage in the third set and coasted to a 25-17 win for the sweep. Willamette's run to start the set ended with six consecutive service aces by Stiles. The fourth ace was the result of a rotation error by the Wildcats. A combo block by Ashlee Ruehs and Brea Chaney ended the string of aces.
Johnson & Wales eventually trailed 17-7. The Wildcats never got closer than seven points later in the set, as Wilalmette prevailed 25-17.