By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Jennifer Lane (Sr., MH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) earned eight kills against Colorado College and added 11 kills against LeTourneau University (Texas), while Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) registered nine kills against Colorado College and achieved 10 kills versus LeTourneau, as both Willamette University hitters amassed 19 kills in action on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Molten Spike It Up Classic. Host Colorado College, ranked #10 in the most recent NCAA Division III Poll released by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), defeated Willamette, 25-21, 25-19, 25-17. LeTourneau held off the Bearcats, 25-21, 25-18, 25-23.
Willamette's record fell to 1-8 on the season. Colorado College improved to 6-1, while LeTourneau upped its mark to 4-4. As in earlier matches, Willamette played extremely well at times and held it's own for a significant number of rallies in the match with nationally-ranked Colorado College, but the Bearcats were unable to close out sets against the Tigers or the YellowJackets.
Bearcats Battle #10-Ranked Colorado College
Against Colorado College, the Bearcats held an 8-4 lead in the first set following an attacking error by the Tigers. Willamette went on to lead 14-10 and 15-11 after kills by Lexi Martin (Fy., MH, Bellevue, WA/Interlake HS). A bit later, the Tigers tied the set at 16-16, but Willamette grabbed a 19-16 margin when Colorado College made three consecutive miscues on one attacking error and two bad sets.
The Tigers battled back to tie the set at 21-21 on a service ace by Isabella Vasquez. An attacking error by the Bearcats, plus a kill by Georgia Mullins and a combo block by Mullins and Jordan Mullen, gave Colorado College a 24-21 lead. Another attacking error by WU led to the Tigers winning the set, 25-21.
Most of the second set was close, with Colorado College holding several three-point leads between 8-5 and 15-12. Willamette tallied the next point on a kill by Lane with an assist from Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute). A service error gave CC a 16-13 advantage, but a kill by Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Bach, HI/Maryknoll School), a hitting error by the Tigers, and a service ace by Queja allowed WU to tie the game at 16-16. The teams split the next two points, before the Tigers went on an 8-2 run to claim a 25-19 victory.
Colorado College was in front for nearly all of the third set, but the Bearcats trailed by just two points, 10-8, after 18 rallies. Later, the Tigers owned a 14-9 advantage on a kill by Isabella Vasquez, but the Bearcats pulled within 14-11 on a kill by Kyana Benjamin (Jr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) and a service ace by Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute). The Tigers increased the margin to 18-11 with a 4-0 run ending with back-to-back kills by Mullins. Colorado College took the set, 25-17.
The top hitter for Colorado College was Mullins with 14 kills and no attacking errors for a .560 hitting percentage. Isabella Vasquez amassed 12 kills with two attacking errors on her way to hitting .526. Vasquez also earned eight digs and three block assists. Haley Harris was credited with a team high nine digs.
In addition to nine kills from Klotz and eight kills from Lane, Willamette received 13 digs from Sato. Queja registered nine digs.
Willamette, LeTourneau Combine for 21 Ties, 21 Lead Changes
LeTourneau led 8-4 in the first set against Willamette, but the Bearcats tied the score at 9-9 on a kill by Lane. The YellowJackets added the next three points, before WU countered with a 5-2 surge to create a 14-14 deadlock. Later, the Bearcats regain a tie at 18-18 on an attacking error by the YellowJackets. LeTourneau took a 23-18 lead, only to have the Bearcats reduce the margin to 23-21 several points later on a kill by Lane. The YellowJackets completed the set at 25-21 on an attacking error by WU and a service ace by Audrey Galindo.
The Bearcats moved out to a 6-3 advantage in the second set. The early run included two kills by Lane and one kill by Klotz, as well as a service ace by Porter. A 6-0 run allowed LETU to grab a 9-6 edge. Sato earned a service ace for Willamette several points later for a 10-10 tie. The YellowJackets scored the next two points and eventually took an 18-13 lead on their way to a 25-18 win.
Partway through the third set, Willamette and LeTourneau were tied at 14-14. LETU was successful on three rallies in a row for a 17-14 edge, but the Bearcats tied the score seven rallies later at 19-19 on a kill by Porter. the teams were tied three more times, before the YellowJackets used a service ace by Taylor Smith and a kill from Mikayla Thomas to latch onto a 24-22 lead. Willamette cut the margin to 24-23, but another kill by Thomas gave LeTourneau the set.
The match featured 21 ties and 21 lead changes. Lane and Klotz each reached double-digit kill totals for the Bearcats, while Porter supplied WU with 30 assists and 18 digs. Sato tacked on 10 digs. For LeTourneau, Kianna Crow achieved 19 kills and a .300 hitting percentage. Lexie Welton added nine kills and hit .333. Natalie Davenport contributed 38 assists. Smith recorded 17 digs and Galindo achieved 14 digs.
Up Next for Willamette
The Bearcats will not play again until Wednesday, Sept. 18, when they open Northwest Conference action by hosting Linfield College at Cone Field House. Match time is set for 7 p.m. (PDT). WU was originally scheduled to host Multnomah University on Sept. 11, but that match was canceled.