The Whitman volleyball team made quick work of Willamette University Friday night at Ball Court, sweeping the Bearcats three games to none.
Before seizing control of the match, Whitman had to withstand a back-and-forth first game. Neither team was able to hold a lead for long, nor extend a lead beyond one or two points. It initially appeared that Willamette would able to use their height up front, led by junior middle hitter Cathy Hargrave, to bother the Missionaries into mistakes around the net. However, the Missionaries were able to grind out a 27-25 victory despite lacking an offensive rhythm.
The second game initially appeared to be more of the same. The teams traded leads for a while, until Whitman sharpened up their offensive attack. The Missionaries opened up a 23-16 lead thanks to several key kills from junior outside hitter Jillian Davis. The ability of Davis to attack from wide on the right neutralized Willamette’s height, and allowed Whitman to take the second game 25-20.
Despite an early scare, the Missionaries rode the momentum of a small but raucous home crowd to victory. Willamette sprinted out to a 10-6 lead, one of their largest of the game. However, Whitman wasted no time responding. Two aces from senior opposite hitter Rachel Shober and clutch digs from first-year libero Hannah Linsenmayer spurred the Missionaries to a 6-0 run to go up 12-10. Willamette fought back to tie the game at 13, but the Missionaries regained the lead and never looked back, winning the game 25-18 to seal the match victory.
The Willamette Bearcats fall to 2-8 overall and 0-3 in the Northwest Conference. Whitman is now 4-7 overall and 2-2 in NWC play. The Missionaries next match is next Friday on the road against George Fox University.