Jackson Bell | Staff Writer
Whitworth Pirates Volleyball took both of their matches on homecoming weekend.
On Friday, the Pirates toppled the Pacific Boxers 3-1, taking the number two spot in the NWC.
The following day, the Pirates defeated the 2-5 Linfield Wildcats, 3-0, tying themselves for the number one spot in the conference at 7-1.
Against the Pacific Boxers, the Pirates took the match over four sets, winning 25-17 in the first, 25-15 in the second, dropping the third 25-18, but recovering in the fourth to win 25-19.
Whitworth opened the first set with a 10-5 lead, and continued to remain in the lead for the whole set. Sophomore Emiko Kahler led the first set with six of her 17 kills of the match.
The second set started off more competitively for the Boxers, taking the 14-13 lead after a kill from Morgan Mendicino. But the Pirates came back aggressively, going on a 12-1 run to close the set. The Pirates put up an impressive .344 hitting percentage on 32 attacks in the second set.
Pacific fought back in the third set, rallying behind Mendicino’s five kills, and showing deadly effectiveness with a .462 hitting percentage. The Pirates fought hard, tying it 17-17, but the Boxers shut the set down with an 8-1 run.
Whitworth was able to finalize the match, adjusting well to the Boxer’s attackers. Madison Douglas, ‘20, had two of her five blocks and four of her eight kills in the fourth set, and hitting .389 through the match. Defensively, the Pirates were led by Taylor Wicht, ‘18, with 22 digs, followed by Kahler with 15.
On Saturday, the Pirates shut out the Linfield Wildcats, 3-0. “We did a good job defensively, we tried to make an adjustment on their middles, blocking, and I think we did that in the third set” said Whitworth head coach, Kati Bodecker.
Whitworth started off strong, with an 8-0 run, including three straight service aces from Kahler.
In the second set, the Wildcats took an early 5-4 lead, but the Pirates returned with a 10-0 run. The Linfield offense started to shake, leading to four attack errors. Senior Lauren Budde showed her hitting strength in the second and third sets, tooling many of her kills off of Wildcat players, unable to react to the ball speed.
The Pirates took the third set steadily, with Bodecker utilizing many players deeper in the roster. The final set was closed out by a kill from Budde.
Whitworth boasted a season-high hitting percentage of .402, with senior Gracie Meiners directing the attacks with 41 assists and two kills of her own. Wicht and Kahler did good work defensively, with 15 and 13 digs, respectively.
“We need to continue to work on our middles and their offensive production. PLU’s middles are really strong and do a good job of blocking, so we need to make sure offensively we are executing and connecting, and on our end, defensively, to prepare ourselves for their tough offense”, Bodecker said concerning preparation for one of their biggest matches this season.
Whitworth will take on the number one team in the conference, Pacific Lutheran, on Friday, Oct. 13.