Wildcats struggle on the road

After road losses against the University of Puget sound and Lewis & Clark College, volleyball dropped to a 6-6 record in Northwest Conference. The team is still in fourth place.
The first of the matches took place on Oct. 22 in Tacoma, Wash., against Puget Sound, which was 11-1 in conference play.
The Loggers got off to a quick start and led the first game by seven points. Linfield fought back valiantly, forcing the lead to 17-15. But the Loggers regained control and won the first game 25-17.
In the second game, the Wildcats appeared to get back on track. They dominated the first half of the game, leading 17-9 in the middle of the second game. After that, Puget Sound showed why they are
highly ranked in the NWC.
The Loggers battled back to tie the game at 20 points. They won the game 25-21.
This took the air out of the sails for Linfield.
In the third game, the team went down 18-25.
Coach Shane Kimura said he believes the team had chances in this match but gave up too many points in large bunches.
“We didn’t play to our potential,” he said.
“We gave up a lot of points in streaks and that hurt us. When you do that against good teams, it puts you in a hole.”
Without much recovery time, the Wildcats headed to Portland the following night for a showdown with the Lewis & Clark Pioneers, who the Wildcats defeated earlier in the conference season.
With the first game tied at 12-12, Linfield fell into another bad streak. The Pioneers scored the next seven points to take a 19-12 lead, eventually winning the game 25-20.
Again, Linfield never seemed to recover. The ’Cats lost the next game 12-25, and the third, 20-25.
When asked about the traveling the team has done lately, Kimura said that that can’t be an excuse.
“It is always harder to play on the road, but the same is true when teams come to play us,” he said. “It is a little different that you have to travel and play, but it is part of being in a conference. We can’t have every match at home.”
With four matches left on the conference schedule, Kimura said the key is to get the offense back on track. The offense has been something that Linfield has struggled with all year, relying on its good defense to win points.
“We are hurting ourselves by making hitting errors,” he said. “Lewis & Clark had only one more kill than we did on Saturday night, but we had twice as many errors.”
The next two matches for the Wildcats will take place Oct. 29 and 30 against Whitman College and Whitworth University, respectively.
Kimura said the team has some fight left in it, which is evident in practice.
“We are on the road again this week, so it doesn’t get any easier,” he said. “We are working at it in the gym, and that is what I ask of them.”
The final home match of the season for the Wildcats will take place Nov. 5 at Pacific Lutheran University.

Jerry Young/Freelancer
Jerry Young can be reached at linfieldreviewsports@gmail.com.

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