by Megan John
Whitworth volleyball faced the Whitman Missionaries and the Willamette Bearcats last weekend, coming up short in both games.
The Pirates had a rough start against Whitman, opening with two attack errors and never fully recovering. Whitworth kept it close until the Missionaries were able to pull away from a 6-5 lead to take control of the game and go on to win 25-12.
“We have to make a better first move on the block to funnel the ball where we want it to go and we are not doing that,” head coach Steve Rupe said.
Whitman pulled out a strong second set with 15 kills and 1 error, which the Pirates were unable to match. The Missionaries took an early lead but two kills in a row from junior outside hitter Jalana White brought the Pirates to within two, making the score 8-6. Whitman countered with a 10-0 run and went on to win the set 25-8.
Despite being down 2-0 in the match, Whitworth responded with its best set of the night with nine kills and its best hitting percentage of the three sets.
“The team needed to focus on playing with no regrets and playing for each other and once we did we played awesome,” freshman outside hitter Nicole Leonard said.
The Pirates led for the first half of the game and were up by as many as five points before Whitman came back to tie the set at 14 points before taking the lead. Whitworth kept the score close, but the Missionaries stayed ahead to win the set 25-22 and the match 3-0.
“We are currently struggling to find our offense. Our transitions and defense is not what it was at our last home matches,” Rupe said.
In Whitworth’s game on Saturday, Willamette jumped ahead of the Pirates early with a 9-2 lead. Whitworth was unable to catch up as the Bearcats kept the energy and won 25-15.
The second set began with a Whitworth lead followed by eight back-and-forth points before Willamette broke away and had two big scoring runs to win the game 25-11.
“We need to be more aggressive with our first ball side outs and keep our serve so we go on runs,” Leonard said.
The Pirates took the first point of the next set and this time went on to win 25-21. The Bearcats forced seven ties and four lead changes before Whitworth took back the lead with eight kills. White had three of these eight kills and Leonard had two along with an ace.
Willamette capped off the Pirates’ momentum in the fourth set, immediately going up 4-0. The Bearcats steadily increased their lead over Whitworth to win the final set 25-14.
“We showed some good fight both nights in the face of adversity and I believe that you will see the same team at home this weekend that beat UPS,” Rupe said.
Whitworth’s next game will be this Friday against Lewis & Clark at 7 pm in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.