PARKLAND, Wash. – A decent start didn’t translate into a strong finish for the Linfield Wildcats, who were defeated in four sets Friday night by a mistake-prone yet resilient Pacific Lutheran squad.
The 16th-ranked Lutes (16-3, 10-1 Northwest Conference) prevailed 26-28, 25-18, 25-9, 25-22 for their 11th victory in the last 12 matches.
Linfield (8-11, 3-8 NWC) sputtered at the net for much of the night, finishing with a positive hitting percentage in just one set and failing to capitalize on a shaky offensive night by the current NWC frontrunners.
Victoria Thompson (Sr., Newberg, Ore.) topped the Linfield stat sheet with eight kills while adding three solo blocks and a pair of block assists. Kailana Ritte-Camara (Sr., Molokai, Hawaii), Shayli Coppock and Leimomi Hookano all contributed seven kills for the ‘Cats.
Seven points by Ritte-Camara sparked Linfield to victory in the opening set. Though the Wildcats committed as many errors as kills, PLU fell victim to seven attack errors and four stray serve attempts. The Lutes opened a comfortable 14-8 cushion over the first 10 minutes before the Wildcats reeled off nine straight points to snatch the lead, 16-14. The set volleyed back and forth several more times until Linfield finally pulled it out with a kill by Ritte-Camara and an ace from Audrey Frazier.
PLU awoke in the second set, scoring five straight points for an 8-5 advantage and never trailed after that. Ritte-Camara was held without a point and the Lutes forced the Wildcats into nine attack errors and a subterranean -.024 hitting percentage. Thompson registered three kills and a solo block to keep Linfield in contention.
The third set saw PLU emerge from a 4-all tie with a 10-1 run that put the hosts squarely in control. With Linfield unable to mount much offense, PLU built a commanding 21-7 lead, scoring seven of the final nine points on the way to the 14-point victory. Coppock was the only Wildcat with more than one kill in the set.
Hookano planted four of her seven kills in the fourth set, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the surging Lutes, who rebounded from a five-point deficit in the late stages to lock up the set and the match. PLU tallied eight of the last nine points to win going away.
PLU’s Haley Urdahl riddled Linfield with 18 kills and 15 digs. Lutes setter Brianne Vincent notched 37 assists, nine digs and five block assists. Amy Wooten chipped in with nine kills, Allison Wood had eight kills and 17 digs and defensive specialists Blair Bjorkman and Amber Agular combined for 45 digs in the back row.
For the Wildcats, Frazier passed our 29 assists while contributing a team-best three aces. Frazer also added a solo block, two block assists and 10 digs. Libero Courtney Uyeda (Jr., Honolulu, Hawaii) totaled 27 digs and Courtney Wanamaker (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) added 13 more for Linfield.
PLU hit a modest .105 for the night while the Wildcats were held to a season-low -.026 at the net.
NEXT: Linfield returns home to Ted Wilson Gym Saturday night to host the George Fox Bruins at 7 p.m.