McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Not wanting to waste the efforts of a lengthy and intense opening act that stretched to 30 points, Linfield turned a first-set victory into a sweep of fourth-place Whitman, winning 30-28, 26-24, 25-22 Friday night inside Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
Kailana Ritte-Camara (Sr., Molokai, Hawaii) shared match-high honors with 13 kills and led all players with 24 digs. Leimomi Hookano pounded the ball down 10 times and Victoria Thompson (Sr., Newberg, Ore.) and Shayli Coppock were nearly double-digit scorers with nine and eight kills, respectively.
After initially struggling to get around the blocking prowess of the Missionaries’ front line, Linfield (9-14, 4-11 NWC) rattled off seven straight points for an 11-8 lead. Another big scoring spurt, this time eight consecutive and fueled by five Whitman errors, allowed the ‘Cats to claim a 20-12 advantage. Linfield could not close the door, however, and a late 6-1 Whitman run forced a tie at set point. The marathon finally ceased with back-to-back kills from Thompson and Ritte-Camara, giving the home team the necessary two-point spread at 30-28.
The second set was close all the way, with neither team gaining more than three points of separation. Whitman (10-12, 8-7 NWC) was more effective at the net – hitting .102 compared to .045 for Linfield – but could not parlay three-point leads into bigger spreads nor wrap things up within a traditional 25-point set.
Errors proved to be the Missionaries’ undoing, as consecutive bad sets gave the ‘Cats a 27-25 triumph and needing only one more victory to get the ‘W.’ After tallying seven kills in the opening set, Whitman’s Courtney Brewer was held to just a pair in the second.
Whitman strung together some modest runs to open the decisive third set, but the Wildcats caught up each time. Linfield displayed the most accuracy in the final frame, tallying a .208 attack percentage, and closed on a 5-1 run to earn the sweep.
Linfield posted one of its better defensive efforts of the season, totaling 98 digs. Ritte-Camara had 24 while libero Courtney Uyeda (Jr., Honolulu, Hawaii) registered 23. Audrey Frazier dished out a match-high 37 assists.
Brewer led the Missionaries with 13 kills on 31 total attacks, easily recording the most effective performance of the evening at a .323 clip. Rachel Cline had 36 assists to go along with a match-high seven block assists. In all, Whitman made 11 blocks to Linfield’s three.
‘CAT SCRATCH: Whitman entered the match on a roll, winning five straight and all in straight sets, the first set marked the second time the Wildcats reached 30 or more points this season, adding to a 34-32 third set victory against Occidental in the home opener on Sept. 2…Linfield had not won in straight sets since a 3-0 defeat of Lewis & Clark on the 15th of September…that match was also the Wildcats’ most recent home victory.
COMING UP: The Wildcats play host to Whitworth in the final Northwest Conference match of the year. Match time is scheduled for an early start, 5 p.m., following Senior Night activities.