WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- In a Northwest Conference match featuring dramatic twists and turns, Linfield outlasted Whitman 27-25, 26-28, 25-12, 11-25, 15-9 in the season-ending match for both clubs Saturday night at Sherwood Center.
Linfield ends the season 4-12 in the NWC and 8-15 overall, sweeping the season series from the Missionaries. Whitman concludes 5-11 in conference action and 7-22 overall.
The first set was a back-and-forth affair that saw Whitman with a chance to win it with a 25-24 lead, before the Wildcats rattled off three straight points to take the set. The swing of momentum featured a Whitman passing error, a block, and a Whitman attack error.
Linfield nearly took a 2-0 lead in the match when the Wildcats built a 24-21 advantage in the second set, but the Missionaries staved off defeat by scoring three straight points to tie, the third coming on a kill down the line by Whitman's Jillian Davis, one of her 20 kills on the night. Linfield was at the doorstep of victory twice more but Whitman responded each time, finally closing out the set on a block and and a slicing kill by Alex Braverman.
Linfield went to work quickly in the third set, grabbing an early 14-8 lead and never easing up, winning going away 25-12.
An inspired Whitman team came out in the fourth set and dominated. With the Missionaries leading 15-11, Natalia Zea had a hand in eight of the next 10 points, delivering three kills and combining on five blocks as the Missionaries evened the match at two sets a piece.
The deciding saw the Wildcats dart out to an 8-3 lead. The Missionaries pulled to within 9-6 on a kill by Shae Kanakaole. Linfield won the three of the next four points to make it 12-7. Whitman cut the lead to 12-9 but could get no closer.
Kailana Ritte-Camara powered down two kills to give the Wildcats a 14-9 advantage. An attack error by Whitman ended the contest.
Ritte-Camara smacked a team-high 21 kills and added 16 digs. Sam Hammons had 11 kills and 10 digs. Victoria Thompson contributed nine kills and a pair of block assists. Casie Gaza (Sr., Mililani, Hawaii) totaled 28 assists and nine digs while Audrey Frazier had 15 assists and 11 digs. Freshman Molly McTaggart (Sr., Burlington, Wash.) was sharp at the net, registering one solo block and five block assists to go with three kills.
Taylor Aschenbrenner provided 45 assists for Whitman.