by Peter Houston-Hencken
The volleyball team ended their preliminary conference season with a loss to the Willamette Bearcats and a win over the Lewis & Clark Pioneers. The Pirates took first place in the Northwest Conference with a record of 13-3.
The Pirates began their weekend on Saturday, Nov. 6, by losing to the Bearcats in a close match, 3-2. The first set played out well for the Pirates. Whitworth held a lead for most of the set and finished with a score of 25-22.
However, the Bearcats came back strong and only lost their lead once in the second set. The Bearcats repeated their success in the third set and ended both sets with identical scores of 25-21.
“They’re a very scrappy team,” junior Breanna Buil said. “They Block really well against us. They just didn’t give up and kept coming after us.”
Whitworth attempted to turn the game around by winning the fourth set. Bruil led the Pirates offensively by scoring three kills in the set and 40 attacks for the night. The Pirates ended the set with a score of 25-16.
With the set score tied at 2-2, both teams came in prepared to end the game. The Pirates seemed to take the win by holding the lead for most of the set. However, at 14-14 one Bearcat kill and one Whitworth attack error gave the win to Willamette. The set ended at 16-14. While the Pirates led in kills and attacks, the Bearcats were able to take the victory and place third in the NWC.
“We just got a little hesitant,” head coach Kati Bodecker said. “We started making careful plays instead of executing with confidence. Willamette, on their end, did a great job of earning those last five points.”
Saturday night began with a rough start in the first set against the Pioneers. The Pirates held a strong lead at 21-16. However, the Pioneers were unwilling to give up and stole the first set with a score of 31-29.
The Pirates came back in the second set playing a much faster game to counter the Pioneers’ skill in blocking. Whitworth built a strong lead and was able to follow through to the end of the set, winning with a score of 25-21.
“I think it was our intensity,” senior Nicole Leonard said. “We were able to keep pushing and keep playing our game.”
The third set mirrored the second and gave the Pirates another set point. The Pirates entered the fourth game with a set score of 2-1. The Pirates ended the game with their best set of the weekend. The Pirates made an impressive 11-point run that brought their score to 17-3. The Pirates did not relent and ended the game with a score of 25-8.
“We just really wanted to prove ourselves,” Bruil said. “We wanted to prove that we are the outright conference champion. We wanted to make a statement that we are a great team that can play together with passion.”
The Pirates received a bid to the next stage of the NWC tournament, Bodecker said. The schedule will be posted on the Whitworth Pirates website. To find their schedule and who they will play next please go to www.whitworthpirates.com.
Contact Peter Houston-Hencken at phouston-hencken17@ my.whitworth.edu