by Leah Dassler
During Homecoming last weekend, the volleyball team defeated both George Fox and Lewis & Clark at home. In the past, the Pirates have tended to split wins on Homecoming weekend, but this weekend marked the first Homecoming since 2011 in which the volleyball team earned two wins at home. The women now stand second in the Northwest Conference, holding six wins and two losses in conference play.
On Friday night, the women shut down George Fox in three games. In the first set, the Bruins managed to stay two points behind Whitworth until the Pirates strung together an 11-4 run. Junior Shawna Korshavn led the team with four kills. The teams exchanged kills in the last minutes of the match, but the Bruin hitters could not overcome the Pirates’ six-point lead. Freshman Cassy Mendoza finished the match with a final kill.
During the second game, Whitworth started off strong with a 9-0 run. Sophomore Brenna Bruil dominated on defense with six successful attacks. Although George Fox attempted to make a comeback to 24-17 near the end of the game, their service error led to another Pirate win.
“Our intensity was a really strong point. The other team did a really good job tipping, but I also felt that we were in control the whole game,” Leonard said.
The Bruins fought back in the third set, gaining a two-point lead before the Pirates moved ahead with a 5-2 run due to several Bruin errors. Bruil finished the match with her twelfth kill of the night. Junior Nicole Leonard led the team with 18 digs while junior Mallorie Schoesler followed closely behind with 14 digs.
On Saturday night, Lewis & Clark challenged the Pirate defense with 14 kills in the first set. The Pioneers took a five-point lead early on while Whitworth struggled to overcome attack errors. The Pirates climbed back up to 22-24 but the Pioneers prevailed with a kill.
The Pirates came back in the second set, improving their hitting percentage from .044 to .105. Freshman outside hitter Cassandra Mendoza made four kills in the first ten points, as each team struggled to gain a lead. The teams tied at 19-19 but Whitworth won on a 6-3 run. In the third set, the Pirates shut out Pioneer attacks with four blocks. The Pirates won on Mendoza’s service ace.
“This weekend we were focusing on playing like we have something to prove because we’re second in the conference right now,” Schoesler said. “Tonight, our blocking improved. We really focused on that in practice. Getting more touches on the blocks really helped us with our defense.”
During the fourth set, Lewis & Clark gained a narrow lead until Leonard and junior Shawna Korshavn made a combined three kills to take the lead. Mendoza made five successful kills after that, while Leonard wrapped up the Pirate win with her sixteenth kill of the night.
“We knew that Lewis & Clark was going to match up well with us well defensively and so we were going to have to earn our points. I think we were prepared for that battle tonight,” Head Coach Kati Bodecker said.
Overall, the Pirates out-blocked the Pioneers 10 to six—their highest number of blocks this season. They will play Pacific Lutheran at home on Friday night.