Whitworth Wins Hard Fought Battle with Bearcats, 3-1, in NWC Volleyball

Kendall Fox (Jr., OH, Dupont, WA/Steilacoom HS)
Kendall Fox (Jr., OH, Dupont, WA/Steilacoom HS)

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

SALEM, Ore. -- Senior outside hitter Jessica Schmautz registered 21 kills for Whitworth University on Friday, Oct. 12 to help the Pirates defeat Willamette University, 3-1, in a hard fought Northwest Conference volleyball match at Cone Field House. Schmautz used her powerful attacking to give the Pirates an edge in a 26-24, 22-25, 25-10, 25-16 win. Willamette fell to 7-11, 4-5 in the NWC.

"We changed our lineup and it didn't work out the way we wanted it to. My fault," Willamette Head Coach Tom Shoji said. "We were okay in the first two sets, but then Whitworth adjusted very well and played great. They really are a good, good team."

The Pirates improved to 14-6 overall and to 8-1 in the NWC. Whitworth is tied with University of Puget (8-1) for first place in the NWC standings. Puget Sound defeated Linfield College, 3-0, on Friday. Pacific Lutheran University, which entered Friday tied with Whitworth and Puget Sound for first place, fell to 7-2 after Pacific University defeated the Lutes, 3-1.

Kendall Fox (Jr., OH, Dupont, WA/Steilacoom HS) led Willamette against Whitworth on Friday by earning 12 kills and a .385 hitting percentage. Jennifer Lane (Jr., MH/OH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) and Lauren Stiles (Jr., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School) each finished with eight kills for the Bearcats.

Elena Vasquez (So., LIB/DS, Kingston, WA/North Kitsap HS) supplied a team-high 15 digs for Willamette, while Jaiden Mason (So., S/OPP, Charlotte, NC/Charlotte Christian School) contributed 21 assists and 13 digs. Arianna Khan made 11 digs, while Lane and Jo Stensaas (Sr., MH/OPP, Weed, CA/Weed HS) tied for the team lead with four total blocks.

Schmautz led Whitworth's attack, but Lauren Budee added 12 kills and Emiko Kahler provided 11 kills. Schmautz hit .333 and Buddee hit .259. Iris Tikhonov finished with nine kills, no attacking errors and a .474 hitting percentage. Setter Erin White amassed 51 assists, while Schmautz and Kahler each accumulated 17 digs.

Whitworth gained a 62-38 edge in kills, but also had a 22-18 lead in attacking errors. Willamette achieved 8.0 team total blocks, while Whitworth produced 5.0 team total blocks.

It was very close for nearly all of the first set with 15 ties and eight lead changes. Whitworth led 9-6 before the Bearcats overcame the three-point deficit and forced a 9-9 tie on an attacking error by the Pirates. A bit later, Willamette took a 15-14 lead when an attack by Schmautz was blocked by Stiles and Lane. The combo block was the second point in a 3-0 surge that opened a 5-1 run for the Bearcats. When the run ended, Willamette held an 18-15 advantage.

The Pirates battled back to tie the set at 18-18. The teams alternated the next 12 points, creating six more ties through 24-24. Schmautz pounded out an attack for a sideout and a 25-24 lead for the Pirates. Schmautz tacked on another kill to end the set for Whitworth at 26-24.

In the second set, there were just three ties and two lead changes. The set featured a strong rally by the Bearcats, who trailed 12-6 and 14-9. Several points later, a combo block by Mason and Natalie Klotz (Fr., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) pulled the Bearcats within 16-15.

Willamette fell behind 20-17 on a kill by Madison Douglas, but scored each of the next six points to move in front, 23-20. The run included a kill by Stensaas to tie the score. Mason added a service ace, Lane and Stensaas combined on a block, and Fox earned a kill to compete the run. Schmautz cut the margin to 23-21 with a kill, but three consecutive serving errors -- two by the Pirates -- allowed Willamette to win, 25-22.

Whitworth surged through the third set after scoring the first eight points with Kiana Vnadaele serving. Two of her serves resulted in aces. Willamette was never able to recover during the set, as the Pirates produced 14 kills and a .379 hitting percentage on their way to a 25-10 win.

The Pirates grabbed a 9-4 lead at the start of the fourth set, ending with a service ace by Woolery and a kill by Budde. The Bearcats fought back to within 11-8 on a kill from Fox, but Whitworth extended its lead to 14-8. Willamette cut the margin to 14-10 and 15-11 on kills by Stiles and Lane, respectively, but couldn't get closer. The Pirates took the set, 25-16.

Willamette will remain at home to take on Whitman College on Saturday, Oct. 13. Match time is set for 6 p.m. (PDT) at Cone Field House. Earlier this season, the Bearcats defeated the Blues 3-2 in Walla Walla, Washington, by scores of 25-19, 25-23, 23-25, 21-25, 15-10.

Kendall Fox (Jr., OH, Dupont, WA/Steilacoom HS)

Big Moment of the Match for Willamette

Willamette trailed 20-17 in the second set before the
Bearcats scored six consecutive points to take a 23-20
lead. Kendall Fox started the run with back-to-back kills
and later secured the final point of the run with another
kill. The Bearcats went on to win the set, 25-22.