Whitman Volleyball Seals the Deal, Friday, Plays Tough Saturday

Quin Nelson

Friday, October 4

The Whitman volleyball team was able to overcome a shaky start to beat the Linfield Wildcats convincingly three sets to one on Friday night at George Ball Court.

The beginning of the game placed the spotlight on the referees more than the either of the two teams competing. Due to an accident between the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla, two of the referees got to the game late, pushing the start time from 7:00 to 7:30. Perhaps this delay could explain the Missionaries’ sluggish start. For the entire first set, Whitman and Linfield traded the lead, with Whitman committing several unforced errors and arriving a step late to digs. Despite playing below their usual standard, Whitman held a 24-23 lead, but the referees again brought attention to themselves with two controversial calls. The final call, which awarded Linfield the final point to win the set 26-24, frustrated Whitman head coach Matt Helm to throw his clipboard and yell at the referee in question.

This outburst by Helm seemed to awaken the Missionaries, who grabbed the momentum and never looked back. The height of middle blockers Courtney Brewer and Olivia Nielson gave the undersized Wildcats plenty of trouble up front, and Whitman was able to take the second set 25-18. The third set was even more lopsided, as the Missionaries dominated defensively. Midway through the set, Whitman was able to withstand a long rally and take the point thanks to a Willie Mays-like, over-the-shoulder save by First-year libero Hannah Linsenmayer. This effectively closed the door on a Linfield comeback, and Whitman took the third set 25-13.

Although the fourth set was a bit closer, the Missionaries were able to take care of business, winning 25-20. Whitman lost their rhythm but ground out the victory thanks in large part to Junior outside hitter Jillian Davis, who had 18 kills for the game.

Saturday, October 6

Despite a gutsy performance, the Whitman volleyball team was unable to defeat the Pacific University Boxers, losing in five sets Saturday night at George Ball Court.

The Missionaries jumped out to a promising start, crushing the Boxers 25-11 in the first set. Senior middle blocker Courtney Brewer snuffed out several scoring opportunities from the Boxers, and Sophomore outside hitter Jazmin Moledina racked up some kills off of cross-court spikes. Unfortunately, Whitman’s clean execution did not carry over to the next set.

After putting on a clinic in the first set, the Missionaries lost their rhythm and energy for large stretches of the next two sets. Pacific outside hitters Alexa Block and Marie Rewick, were able to find space around the net and they made the Missionaries pay, combining for 20 kills for the match. Contrarily, Whitman struggled to set up their outside hitters, allowing Pacific middle blocker Maria McHolland to pick up several blocks. This caused the Missionaries to over-compensate and send attempted kills sailing out of bounds. Whitman dropped the second and third sets 25-20 and 25-21, respectively.

The Missionaries were able to put these struggles behind them in the fourth set. Although Whitman was behind for much of the set, they stayed within striking distance, and executed down the stretch after seizing the lead at 21-20. Whitman won the fourth set 25-21, capped off by a powerful kill by Junior outside hitter Jillian Davis. Both teams played well in the final set, but Pacific was able to grab the hotly contested victory 15-13.

The Whitman volleyball team will play next on Friday night against the University of Puget Sound at George Ball Court.