By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Jennifer Lane (Sr., MH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS), Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Bach, HI/Maryknoll School) and Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) each provided strong moments for Willamette University at the Molten Spike It Up Classic on Friday, Sept. 6 on the Colorado College campus. Even so, the Bearcats were defeated by the University of La Verne (Calif.) and by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. La Verne downed Willamette, 3-1, winning 25-23, 25-21, 22-25, 25-18. MIT was victorious over the Bearcats, 3-0, with scores of 25-19, 26-24, and 25-19.
WU will take on host Colorado College on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 12 p.m. MDT/11 a.m. PDT. Colorado College is ranked #10 in the NCAA Division III Poll released by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) on Sept. 3. The Bearcats will conclude the tournament with a match against LeTourneau University (Texas) on Saturday at 4 p.m. MDT/3 p.m. PDT.
Lane opened the two-day tournament by providing the Bearcats with 16 kills, a .353 hitting percentage and three total blocks against La Verne. It was her sixth consecutive match of the season with 10 or more kills. Lane was credited with five kills and three blocks against MIT, giving her 79 kills (2.82 avg.) and 24 blocks (0.86 avg.) in Willamette's first seven matches (28 sets).
Kyana Benjamin (Jr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) and Lexi Martin (Fy., MH, Bellevue, WA/Interlake HS) each pounded out seven kills against the Panthers, as both players hit .211 for the match. Klotz finished with six kills, 18 digs, five service aces and three block assists.
Top hitters for La Verne were Haley Celaya with 20 kills, Ayana Mier with 15 kills and Pi'ikea Clemens with 11 kills. Emma Estigoy amassed 21 digs, while Madison Maynes dished out 51 assists. The Panthers earned a team hitting percentage of .247.
The Bearcats owned leads late in each of the first two sets, but the Panthers rallied each time to grab wins of 25-23 and 25-21. Willamette hit .381 in the third set to win 25-22. La Verne connected on its attacks at a .310 clip in the fourth set to close out the match.
In the match against MIT, Queja led Willamette with 11 kills and also contributed fours digs. Klotz accumulated 10 kills and a .280 hitting percentage to go along with seven digs and three block assists. Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) supplied 31 assists and a match-high 17 digs. Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute) added 10 digs against the Engineers.
MIT's Lilly Edwards matched Queja with 11 kills. Alexis Groark tacked on nine kills and a .412 hitting percentage for the Engineers. Madison Lee achieved 13 digs, while Shea Landeene was credited with five total blocks.
The Engineers hit well throughout the final two sets, and finished with a .252 team hitting percentage. MIT was particularly successful on offense in the second set, when the Engineers registered 20 kills and a .357 hitting percentage.
Willamette also attacked well in the second set for a .286 hitting percentage. The teams were in a close battle over the final few rallies. The Engineers prevailed, 26-24, and then won the third set, 25-19.