Klotz Registers 14 Kills and 10 Digs in 3-0 Loss to NWC Leaders from Whitworth

Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS)
Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) of Willamette University earned a double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs against Whitworth University on Friday, Nov. 1, but the first-place Pirates defeated the Bearcats, 3-0, in a Northwest Conference match. Whitworth won, 25-19, 25-21, 25-19, and upped its record to 18-5 on the season, 12-1 in the NWC.

The Pirates hold first place in the conference by three matches over Pacific University and the University of Puget Sound, both at 9-4. Willamette fell to 6-16 overall, 5-8 in the NWC.

Klotz leads the Bearcats with 254 kills and 3.17 kills per set this season. She is sixth in the NWC in kills and ranks fifth in the NWC in kills per set.

On Friday, Lauren Stiles (Sr., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School) added eight kills, a .368 hitting percentage, and 11 digs for the Bearcats. Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute) provided WU with 18 digs, while Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Beach, HI/Maryknoll School) made 13 digs. Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) recorded 33 assists.

Emiko Kahler topped Whitworth with 14 kills. Iris Tikhonov added 11 kills and hit .400 for the Pirates. Whitworth finished with a .266 team hitting percentage and limited the Bearcats to a .114 hitting percentage. Also for the Pirates, Kaitlyn White achieved 17 digs, Kiana Vandaele chipped in 16 digs. Joelle Forbes supplied 20 assists and Saylor Anderson was credited with 18 assists.

"We just can't seem to start very well. That's not good against good teams. We hope to be better tomorrow (at Whitman College)."
— Willamette Head Coach Tom Shoji

Whitworth took a 10-4 lead in the first set and a 10-5 advantage in the second set. Willamette led 7-4 in the third set, but the Pirates rallied to complete the match.

After the Pirates grabbed a six-point margin in the first set, the Bearcats cut the lead to four points at 11-7, following a solo block by Queja, and at 12-8 on a kill from Queja. Whitworth answered with a 6-2 run to increase its lead to 18-10. The Pirates won the set, 25-19.

The five-point deficit that Willamette faced early in the second set forced the Bearcats to battle from behind. A kill by Queja reduced the margin to 13-10. After the Pirates surged out to a 17-12 advantage, the Bearcats rallied again, using a 5-0 run to pull within 17-15 on a solo block by Jennifer Lane (Sr., MH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS). The next three points went to the Pirates, who eventually led 24-18.

Willamette used a combo block by Stiles and Kyana Benjamin (Jr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS), plus an attacking error by the Pirates and a service ace by Porter, to reduce the lead to 24-21. Whitworth was credited with the final point of the set on an attacking error by the Bearcats.

Three consecutive kills by Klotz completed Willamette's 7-4 run to start the third set. Whitworth tallied the next four points for an 8-7 lead, but the teams were tied at 9-9 on a kill by Stiles. The Pirates owned a slim 13-11 margin following a kill by Lane of Willamette. The Bearcats were unable to get closer, as the Pirates went on a 6-0 run for a 19-11 lead. Kahler completed the run with back-to-back kills.

The Bearcats answered with a 5-0 run of their own, ending with two kills by Klotz, as they reduced the difference to three points at 19-16. Whitworth won the next two rallies to open a 6-3 surge to take the set 25-19.

Willamette will play at NWC rival Whitman College on Saturday, Nov. 2. Match time in Walla Walla, Washington, is slated for 6 p.m. (PDT).