By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
PORTLAND, Ore. -- University of Wisconsin-Stout won a close first set on its way to a 3-1 victory over Willamette University in a battle of undefeated teams on Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Oregon Trail Classic. UW-Stout took the opening set, 25-23, then added a 25-18 triumph in the second set. The Bearcats prevailed 25-21 in the third set, before the Blue Devils closed out the match with a 25-16 win in the fourth set. UWS improved to 3-0 on the season, while Willamette dropped to 2-1.
As the match got underway at the Pamplin Center on the Lewis & Clark campus, Willamette used a 6-1 run to take an 11-6 lead. Kendall Fox (Jr., OH, Dupont, WASteilacoom HS) and Jennifer Lane (Jr., MHOH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) each contributed a kill during the run. UW-Stout countered by winning five of the next six rallies to pull with 12-11 on a kill by Amber Ripley.
WU scored back-to-back points for a 14-11 edge, but the Blue Devils went on a 5-0 run, including two kills from Ripley to take a 16-14 lead. UW-Stout gained a 21-17 margin following kills by Lexie Nelson and Summer Garr on consecutive rallies. Willamette equalized at 23-23 on a combo block by Natalie Klotz (Fr., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) and Kyana Benjamin (So., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS). The Blue Devils added a kill by Kennedy Strain and a successful attack by Ripley to win the set.
UW-Stout held leads of 7-2 and 9-4 to take control of the second set. A bit later, the Blue Devils went on a 5-0 run to take a 20-10 advantage on their way to a 25-18 win.
In the third set, Willamette put together a strong start for a 7-2 lead. Two of the early points for the Bearcats were scored on service aces by Elena Vasquez (So., LIB/DS, Kingston, WA/North Kitsap HS). WU led by five points four rallies later, before a kill by Jaiden Mason (So., S/OPP, Charlotte, NC/Charlotte Christian School) and two attacking errors by the Blue Devils gave the Bearcats a 12-4 lead.
The Blue Devils rallied with a 13-4 run to take a 17-16 edge on the scoreboard. Willamette answered with a 6-0 surge to regain control at 22-17. The run by the Bearcats included one kill each from Lane and Fox, plus a combination block from Lane and Mason. UW-Stout pulled within 23-21, but the Bearcats won the set, 25-21, following an attacking error by the Blue Devils and a kill by Klotz.
Wisconsin-Stout scored seven of the first eight points in the fourth set and led 11-3 after 14 rallies. The Bearcats were unable to rally, as the Blue Devils completed the match with a 25-16 victory.
Kennedy Strain led UWS with 16 kills, while earning a .464 hitting percentage. Ripley added 14 kills and hit .333. Four other Blue Devils contributed five or six kills, as UW-Stout amassed 61 kills overall. Steph Cannon provided the Blue Devils with a match-high 27 digs. Nelson tacked on 16 digs and 20 assists, while Jessica Duval registered 11 digs and 21 assists.
The Blue Devils limited Willamette to 28 kills. Fox led the Bearcats with seven kills. Klotz produced six kills and 16 digs. Mason was credited with 23 assists, 11 digs and five block assists. Lane achieved eight total blocks. The Bearcats finished with 9.0 team total blocks, compared to 5.0 team total blocks for UW-Stout.