by Megan John
Whitworth volleyball won its last set of home conference games over fall break, defeating the Lewis & Clark Pioneers 3-1 and the George Fox Bruins 3-0.
On Friday, the Pirates immediately jumped ahead of the Pioneers 3-1 in the first set.. Two service aces from freshman outside hitter Nicole Leonard extended the lead to 6-1. Whitworth continued a strong set with 13 kills as a team and 4 errors to win the set 25-14.
“When we start out really strong we tend to be able to maintain that a lot longer,” freshman setter Maddye Dinsmore freshman. “It was really important to get that first win and create a lot of momentum for us as a team.”
Lewis & Clark came back fighting in the second set, and after nine ties and seven lead changes the Pioneers took the lead 18-17 thanks to a 7-0 scoring run. Kills from junior outside hitter Jalana White and Leonard brought the Pirates to within one before Lewis & Clark pulled away to win 25-22.
The third set started out close with more ties and lead changes, but a kill from Dinsmore gave Whitworth a 13-12 lead which the team took advantage of. The Pirates went on to win the set 25-19, ending on a kill from Leonard.
“We limited Lewis & Clark to very few runs and that allowed us to control the pace and tempo of the match,” head coach Steve Rupe said.
Whitworth opened the fourth set with kills from Dinsmore, Leonard, and two from junior middle blocker Kristine Kardell to give the Pirates a 5-2 lead right off the bat. Whitworth continued to lead up until the end of the set when Pioneers came back and took the lead 24-23. The Pioneers couldn’t capitalize on the set point and Whitworth took advantage of Pioneer errors to win the set 26-24 and the match 3-1.
“We’ve gone through so many of those close games that we just know what needs to be done in those last few point to terminate it,” Dinsmore said.
The Pirates carried the momentum into their game the next day against George Fox, taking an early 3-0 lead with kills from Leonard and Kardell. Whitworth led by as many as five points at 14-9 before the Bruins went on a run to tie the set at 14. The Pirates responded with a run of their own, going up 20-15. George Fox kept it close and came back to tie the set again at 25, but a service ace from Dinsmore capped off the set victory for the Pirates 27-25.
Whitworth took control of the last two sets and won them both 25-15 to win the match 3-0. With a minimal number of errors and a total of 27 kills in the final two sets compared to George Fox’s 12, the Pirates managed to accomplish their goal to sweep at home and improve to 5-9 in conference play.
“We served very tough and never allowed Fox to get into any kind of rhythm,” Rupe said. “We all felt very good about our effort and it is always good to win at home.”
Whitworth’s last season game will be Saturday Nov. 3 at 5 pm at Linfield College.