Linfield wins one, loses one

Photo by Chris Woods

Photo by Chris Woods

Septembre Russell

Copy editor

The volleyball team achieved a coveted fourth conference win, putting Whitman College away
Oct. 10.

Whitman entered the competition with a 0-7 record. Linfield supplied Whitman with its eighth loss for the season, playing three sets with scores of 25-15, 25-15 and 25-14.

Freshman outside hitter Tara Hill scored the first point of the evening, setting the momentum for the opening and subsequent matches.

The ‘Cats kept up their usual strength at the net. The block team challenged every swing regardless of whether an attack or a tip was attempted by the opponent. Senior outside hitter Kelsey French achieved eight blocks, followed by Hill with six blocks and junior middle blocker Emily Vuylsteke with seven blocks.

Whitman had no chance to rest. The Missionaries had difficulty setting up for plays. Smart dinks and well-placed hits kept them on their toes, as did a shallow bench yielding minimal substitutes for the Missionaries.

Whitman failed to match the ‘Cats’ intensity, yet they demonstrated their knowledge of what to do with the ball at certain points in the game.

Junior outside hitter Alex Graves served well for the Missionaries and achieved eight kills in the game, while freshman outside hitter Katie Miller tallied six
kills.

Standout service from Hill, freshman outside hitter Samantha Lau and senior libero Meghan Flink aided the ‘Cats’ dominance. Whitman could not find an answer for Lau’s floating serve in the final set of
the match

On Oct. 11, the ‘Cats contended with Whitworth University, resulting in a four-set win in Whitworth’s favor, scoring 25-19, 25-23, 25-19 and 25-15.

Wildcat passing was not the cause of the loss against Whitworth; in fact, their passing improved in comparison to those carried out in the Oct. 4 game against George Fox University.

The ‘Cats were efficient in getting great passes off serves from Whitworth despite some heat coming from leading servers senior outside hitter Nikki Bardwell and freshman setter Jordon Hoffnagle. This was also proven true during their attacks, in part, by Lau,who had 20 digs.

After dropping the first two sets, the ‘Cats did not lose focus. Senior Kelsey Habura tied the score in the third set, and the team rallied together triumphantly on a 7-1 run, taking the set from the Pirates on a kill from Hill.

The Pirates hit well during the game, with Bardwell earning 16 kills and 19 digs, and freshman outside hitter Kaimi Rocha grabbing 13 kills and 15 digs.

Whitworth did, however, have some hitting errors in the fourth set, causing them to tip the ball, but the ‘Cats were excellent with their coverage of the
10-foot line.

Junior setter Stephanie Purser was a force the entire night, showing her athleticism in getting to the second hit and putting the ball into Wildcat attackers’ hands, leading to 12 kills by Vuylsteke and 10 from both Lau and Hill.

Both teams played aggressively, and the game boiled down to the positioning of serves and spikes in each others’ weak spots, giving up points on serving errors and, in finality, communication. 

The Wildcats are cognizant of the importance of communication, Purser said.

“I think what it comes down to is communication on the court and the celebration after every point, because whoever has the most energy on the court typically wins the game,” she said.

The team’s recent losses will help put the season into perspective.

“This season, it’s all about who wants to show up that day,” Purser said. “If you look at the stats, there are four teams that are 4-4 and then two teams that are tied for first with 6-2. It’s just whoever wants to bring it that night and whoever is ready.”

Linfield will contend with Pacific Lutheran University tonight at 7 in Ted Wilson Gymnasium.

The ‘Cats follow up with a match against the University of Puget Sound on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.

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