by Peter Houston-Hencken
The volleyball team found redemption in last week’s games by beating the top two teams in the Northwest Conference. The Pirates beat the first place Willamette University Bearcats, 3-1, and brought the second place Lewis & Clark University Pioneers down to third with a score of 3-1.
Friday night’s home game against the Bearcats got off to a rocky start with the Pirates falling behind early in the match.
“We knew they would be good blockers,” senior Shawna Korshavn said. “But we’ve beaten them in past years.”
The Bearcats showcased their strong ability to block attacks throughout the first set as well as the entire game. By the end of the game, the Bearcats had a total of 14 blocks and 26 attempts compared to Whitworth’s four blocks and eight attempts.
The Pirates were unable to catch up to Willamette until the score reached 12-12. For the rest of the set, the Pirates slowly gained points while the Bearcats quickly increased their score to 25. The set ended with a Willamette win and score of 25-17.
The Pirates were for the second set by working together and playing at a much faster pace.
Whitworth struggled for a strong lead due to Willamette tying it up at multiple points. However, at 8-7 the Pirates broke free and took a strong lead, which they would hold until the end of the set. The second set ended with score of 25-15.
“Our passers did a great job of initiating that play,” head coach Kati Bodecker said. “And then our hitters did a good job of terminating.”
Sophomore Cassie Mendoza led the offensive for the Pirates. By the end of the second set, Mendoza had a total of 10 kills and 22 attempts.
The Bearcats attempted to retaliate in the third set by holding a steady lead over the Pirates. Halfway through the set, the two teams tied the score at 13-13 and stayed neck and neck for the rest of the set. The Pirates were able to achieve a narrow victory and won the third set with a score of 25-23.
With the Pirates winning two sets in a row and holding a set score of 2-1, it seemed that Whitworth would dominate the game. The Pirates proved those predictions correct by dominating the fourth and final set.
Korshavn helped the Pirates achieve victory by landing 10 kills and 33 attempts throughout the game. However, the defense was led by senior Mallorie Schoesler who made 21 successful digs.
The Pirates ended the fourth set with relative ease. Whitworth held a solid lead for almost the entire set and ended with a nine-point lead. Friday night’s game ended with Whitworth winning the final set at 25-16 and holding a set score of 3-1.
Saturday’s game began with the Pioneers and the Pirates exchanging leads. Early in the first set, the Pioneers held a small lead, but dropped to seven points behind the Pirates at 19-13. The Pioneers closed the gap at 24-24, but the Pirates were able to close the set with two consecutive points.
The Pirates dominated the second set by holding a large lead for the majority of the set. The final 25-17 score was achieved through the of- fensive strength of sophomore Karina Lees who entered the game during the second set. Lees made five kills and 13 attempts in the sec- ond set as the right outside hitter.
“Right side is actually a newer position for me. I’ve only been playing it for about a week now,”Lees said.“I just have an aggressive mindset. I have something to prove.”
Lees went on to make a total of 11 kills against the Pioneers.
The Pioneers were able to win the third set with a close score of 25-22. The Pirates had difficulty digging Lewis & Clark’s trick attacks which were barely tapped over the net.
The Pirates used their skill of scoring points on serves to win the final set and close the game with a score of 25-23. The Pirates shot a total of nine service aces, one of which, ended the game.
“We have always wanted to use [serving] as a weapon and a way to score points,” Bodecker said.
The Pirates sit at second place for the NWC with a record of 6-2.
The Pirates will play at home on Friday, Oct. 16 against Pacific Lutheran University and Saturday, Oct. 17 against University of Puget Sound.
Contact Peter Houston-Hencken at email@example.com