Willamette Ends Oregon Trail Classic at 3-1 with Sweep of Mills, 25-8, 25-15, 25-15

Jaiden Mason (So., S/OPP, Charlotte, NC/Charlotte Christian School)
Jaiden Mason (So., S/OPP, Charlotte, NC/Charlotte Christian School)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Willamette University Bearcats improved to 3-1 on the season with a sweep of Mills College on Saturday, Sept. 1 at the Oregon Trail Classic on the campus of Lewis & Clark College. Willamette won 25-8, 25-15, 25-15. The Bearcats earned 35 kills, just seven attacking errors and a .322 team hitting percentage against the Cyclones. WU held Mills to 19 kills, while forcing the Cyclones into 21 attacking errors and a negative .028 hitting percentage.

Kyana Benjamin (So., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS), Lauren Kaaialii (So., OH, Honolulu, HI/Sacred Hearts Academy), and Jo Stensaas (Sr., MH/OPP, Weed, CA/Weed HS) each recorded five kills to lead a balanced attack for the Bearcats. Kaaialii hit .500 and Stensaas hit .444.

Jaiden Mason (So., S/OPP, Charlotte, NC/Charlotte Christian School) provided Willamette with 20 assists, while splitting the setter duties with Morgan Webster (Sr., S/DS, Milwaukie, OR/Milwaukie HS), who tacked on 10 assists. Arianna Khan (So., OPP, Yuba, CA/River Valley HS) contributed a team-high six digs and Nina Hernandez (So., LIB/DS, Valencia, CA/William S. Hart HS) finished with five digs.

Myeisha Williams led Mills with seven kills. Stephanie Morales registered 13 assists and five digs. Amanda Aurelio topped the Cyclones with 11 digs, while Erica Ordaz earned seven digs.

Jennifer Lane (Jr., MH/OH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) of Willamette waa one of 12 players named to the Oregon Trail All-Tournament Team. Also earning All-Tournament recognition were Bailey Brower from Elmhurst College (Ill.), Codie Coching from Whitman College, Anikalea Keliiheleua of Linfield College, Nekedra Liddle from College of New Rochelle (N.Y.), Morgan Mendicino of Pacific University, Clair Okerlund from University of California, Santa Cruz, Karen Marufu-Zubara of Illinois Institute of Technology, Brooke Paxton from Johnson and Wales University (Colo.), Laney Search from George Fox University, Kennedy Strain from University of Wisconsin-Stout, and Jessica Schmautz of Whitworth University. Matches were held at Lewis & Clark and at Pacific.

Against Mills, the Bearcats raced out to a 10-4 lead in the opening set. Lane produced three kills during the opening run. A bit later, Willamette led 14-7 before closing the set with an 11-1 run. The final four points in the 25-8 win were a kill by Mason, two kills form Lauren Stiles (Jr., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School) and an attacking error by the Cyclones.

Willamette also took charge early in the second set, as the Bearcats surged out to a 10-3 advantage. Larsen Fellows (Sr./Jr., OH, Homer, AK/Homer HS) provided two aces and Elena Vasquez (So., LIBDS, Kingston, WA/North Kitsap HS) added one ace to help create the run. Willamette gradually increased its lead to 19-9 on its way to a 25-15 victory.

The Bearcats also won 25-15 in the third set. As in the second set, WU was in front 10-3 after 13 rallies. Mills battled to within four points three times, the last at 15-11. Willamette responded with a 5-2 run for a seven-point margin at 20-13.

During the tournament, Willamette hit .177 and limited its four opponents to a .080 hitting percentage. The Bearcats accumulated 37 service aces (2.85 per set) and allowed opponents just 12 service aces.

Next weekend, the Bearcats will compete at the Cal Lu Fornia Tournament, hosted by California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. The Bearcats will take on Chapman University (Calif.) and University of California, Santa Cruz on Friday, Sept. 7 and will battle University of Redlands (Calif.) and Hardin-Simmons University (Texas) on Saturday, Sept. 8.