Boxers Edge Bearcats, 3-2, in Gripping Match with 33 Ties, 15 Lead Changes

Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute)
Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- In a match where the stats were as close as the overall scores would indicate, Pacific University slipped past Willamette University, 3-2, in Northwest Conference volleyball action on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Cone Field House. Pacific won the even-numbered sets for a 25-22, 27-29, 25-22, 17-25, 15-13 victory. The match featured 33 ties and 15 lead changes, while the fifth set alone included six ties and three lead changes.

The stats showed Pacific with a 67-66 lead in kills. The Boxers earned a .221 hitting percentage, compared to .220 for the Bearcats. Pacific owned a 103-91 edge in digs, and had 12.0 team total blocks, while Willamette finished with 9.0 team total blocks. Pacific recorded five more assists than the Bearcats, but the setters were virtually even, as Makena Mahuna supplied 54 assists for the Boxers and Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) provided 52 assists for Willamette.

Pacific ended the match with a 14-4 record, 7-1 in the NWC. Willamette, which lost a 3-2 decision at Pacific Lutheran University on Friday (Oct. 11), fell to 4-13, 3-5 in the NWC.

Jordan Zweifel of Pacific led all players with 20 kills. Karlee Duncan and Milana Ivkovic each tacked on 12 kills for the Boxers. Haley Walz of Pacific topped all players with 40 digs. Mahuna added 17 digs.

Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) paced WU with 18 kills. Jennifer Lane (Sr., MH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) registered 17 kills, with just one attacking error and a .500 hitting percentage. Lane also accumulated seven block assists. Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Bach, HI/Maryknoll School) contributed 14 kills and 17 digs. Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute) was credited with a career-high 34 digs. Her previous high of 32 digs was attained on Sept. 28 against George Fox University.

"Tonight, I was proud of the way the girls battled and gave everything they had throughout the entire match. Jennifer was an offensive powerhouse who could not be stopped, which opened up the rest of our offense. Shyla frustrated the Pacific offense by being an absolute digging machine. The Bearcats battled through two tough five-set matches this weekend."
— Willamette Assistant Coach Alaina Gentili

The fifth set was tied at 3-3 following six rallies. Pacific gained a 6-3 edge with a kill from Duncan, followed by two kills from Zweifel. WU answered with three points of its won, including a kill from setter Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) after an over-pass by the Boxers. The teams also were tied at 7-7 and 8-8, before Pacific took a 10-8 lead on back-to-back combo blocks by Nanea Lum and Ivkovic.

Willamette pulled within 11-10 on a kill by Klotz, and also trailed by a single point at 12-11. One kill each from Lum and Zweifel increased Pacific's margin to 14-11. A kill by Klotz and an attacking error by the Boxers cut the lead to 14-13. Pacific scored the match-winning point on an assisted block by Elika Unti and Zweifel.

The Bearcat started strong in the first set and took a 10-3 lead, including five kills from Klotz and three kills by Lane. Pacific eventually pulled within 13-11 on a kill by Ivkovic. The teams were tied at 14-14, before the Boxers used a 5-1 run to move in front, 19-15. A bit later, a kill by Porter cut the margin to 20-19, and three rallies later the Bearcats tied the score at 21-21 on an attacking error by the Boxers.

Kills by Duncan and Lum, plus a setting error by WU, gave Pacific a 24-21 lead. Queja tacked on a kill for the Bearcats, but a kill by Zweifel of Pacific led to a 25-22 win for the Boxers.

Willamette rallied from deficits of 8-4, 13-8, and 15-9 in the second set, as the Bearcats grabbed a 29-27 victory. Brooke Lohuis (Fy., S, Dublin, CA/Dublin HS) provided a kill for Willamette that tied the set at 19-19. The next two points were won by the Boxers, and then WU added three points to take a 22-21 lead. Willamette held set points at 24-23 and 25-24, but Pacific kept the set going. The Boxers gained a 26-25 edge on a service ace by Duncan. The teams were tied two more times, before Willamette broke a 27-27 deadlock with a kill by Queja and a ball-handling error by Zweifel.

The third set was close throughout with 12 ties, four lead changes, and neither team leading by more than three points. The team were tied after virtually every two rallies early in the set, leading to the final tie at 13-13. A 5-2 run that included two kills by Lum produced an 18-15 advantage for the Boxers. Pacific owned a two-point lead at 23-21 following a kill by Benjamin of Willamette. The Boxers scored on three if the next four rallies to win the set, 25-22.

In the fourth set, three were just two tied and two lead changes. Willamette took the lead for good at 10-9 on a combo block by Lane and Queja. The Bearcats soon led 15-9. Pacific pulled as close as 17-13 on a kill by Ivkovic, but Willamette closed out the set with an 8-4 run for a 25-17 triumph.

Up next for Willamette is a match with archrival Linfield College on Wednesday, Oct. 16 in McMinnville, Oregon. Match time is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PDT).