Katelyn McLean | Sports Editor
Whitworth volleyball returned to the Fieldhouse on Friday, Sept. 17 and Saturday, Sept. 18 to beat Northwest Conference opponents George Fox University and Pacific University.
Whitworth lost the first set to George Fox 25-23 but rallied back to win the next three straight 25-16, 25-23 and 25-18.
Senior outside hitter Maddie Lee led the team in kills with 18, while also recording 16 digs.
The game against Pacific was a back-and-forth thriller. The Pirates won the first two sets 25-18 and led in the third set until a seven-point run gave Pacific a 24-22 advantage, allowing them to come back to win the third and fourth sets 28-26. However, Whitworth fought to win the fifth set and take the match 15-12.
Lee led the Pirates against Pacific as well, recording 17 kills, two service aces, five blocks, and 19 digs.
“I try to be as crafty as I can because as a smaller player, when there’s a big block, it’s hard for me to get kills sometimes,” Lee said.
Whitworth not only depended on Lee’s skill as a player, but also on her leadership during intense games where she encouraged and advised her teammates on the court.
“In big moments, we need big players to come through and [we are] just encouraging them to have confidence in themselves, to do that and to stay aggressive even when someone may have made a mistake,” Lee said.
Head Coach Kati Bodecker had similar words for her team at timeouts.
“The whole fourth and fifth sets we just talked about trusting ourselves, playing with confidence, not playing with that fear to lose but going out there and being confident to do what they need to do to earn that point,” Bodecker said.
This was the first time fans had been allowed in the Fieldhouse to watch a volleyball game since fall of 2019.
“They came here to watch us perform and obviously we don’t want to let them down. We want to play well for them and for each other, so they’re definitely a huge part of the atmosphere here in the Fieldhouse,” Lee said.
“Grateful to get two wins against two really good opponents, super grateful for this experience to be at home in front of fans, and then I think it was also a good experience kind of recognizing what we need to get better at,” Bodecker said.
Whitworth volleyball hits the road to take on Linfield University in McMinnville, Oregon on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7pm.