Whitworth volleyball remains perfect in conference with four games to go

Katelyn McLean | Sports Editor

Cassidy Franklin #22 goes up to the net at the match vs Willamette on Saturday, Oct. 23 | Photo by Ben Gallaway

The Pirates remain undefeated in Northwest Conference play with four games left in the regular season after playing from behind to beat Linfield 3-1 on Friday, Oct. 22 and Willamette 3-0 on Saturday, Oct. 23.

            Whitworth struggled in the first set against a stifling Linfield defense who recorded three blocks. The Pirate offense only recorded ten kills and hit a match-low .023 in the set. However, the team rallied and won the next three straight sets to take the match.

            In Saturday’s game, Whitworth cruised through the first set, winning 25-16 but then had to fight from behind to win the last two sets. The Pirates hit .423 in the first set, but that average dropped to .286 in the second and .217 in the third. Whitworth trailed for most of the second set, largely due to issues in communication on the court.

            “Part of communication is trust, especially out on the volleyball court, so we just talked about trusting your teammates, trusting that they’re going to be in the right spot, and we also talked about playing with passion and playing with our hearts and playing for our teammates,” Bodecker said.

            “We would talk about where our hitters were, where we need to block and what we need to focus on to win that actual point,” middle blocker Kaity Barr said.

            Whitworth was down 17-13, their biggest deficit of the set, and called a timeout before making a comeback to tie it up and win.

            “I really talked about their mentality. I felt like we weren’t playing hard, we weren’t playing together and we took a break mentally,” Bodecker said. “I just challenged them. I told them they need to make a change and that change has to happen first mentally and in their hearts. They just needed to come together as a team and play to their level.”

            The Pirates again played from behind in the third set but came back to take the set, as well as the match.

            “They do well when pressure is on their shoulders, so I think that is a good trait. I would say that the one thing that we are working on is how to be a consistent team to start strong and stay strong,” Bodecker said.

            While Whitworth is happy to be undefeated, both Bodecker and Barr feel that it’s most important to keep the achievement in perspective.

            “It feels really good, but it’s also kind of intimidating because I feel like every single team plays their best game ever against us,” Barr said.

            “I’m proud of them, I feel like it’s an accomplishment for sure, but we haven’t won anything yet so I think we’re just trying to always focus forward onto that next game. Then at the end of the season, we can reflect back and look,” Bodecker said.

            Whitworth will hit the road to play University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University on Fri, Oct. 29, at 7pm and Sat, Oct. 30 at 6pm.

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