McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Playing its third match in five days and second straight nationally ranked opponent, Linfield gave 10th-ranked Puget Sound all it could handle, but ultimately fell to one of the top teams in the Northwest Conference. The Loggers downed the Wildcats in four sets, 25-10, 21-25, 25-22, 26-24 Saturday night inside Ted Wilson Gymnasium.
The ‘Cats (7-7, 2-4 NWC) won the first point of the night on a kill by Kailana Ritte-Camara (Jr., Molokai, Hawaii), but the Loggers (10-3, 5-1) quickly ran away with the first set, handily winning by 15 points, 25-10.
Surprisingly, Linfield actually outnumbered Puget Sound in number of kills in the opening frame. The difference, then was in the number of mistakes: the Loggers were perfect, committing zero errors, while the ‘Cats were far from it, misfiring a whopping 12 times.
Marissa Florant pounded down five balls in the first frame alone on just seven swings.
Linfield opened the second set with a 6-0 run to stun the Loggers, who were never able to completely catch up. The ‘Cats did not surrender their lead for a moment, and despite Puget Sound trimming the gap to two points late in the game, the home team held on for the win.
Ritte-Camara contributed five kills in the second frame, while Victoria Thompson (Jr., Newberg, Ore.) and Audrey Frazier (Jr., Albany, Ore.) added three more each.
The Loggers came out of the break on fire, winning 11 of the first 13 points to gain a nine-point advantage. Linfield finally found its blocking game, however, and fought back to within four, 14-10. The score remained tight the rest of the way, including a tie at 22-22.
Puget Sound picked the perfect time for a short, but decisive, run, winning the final three points to claim a 2-1 advantage in the match. Although the Wildcats put up a solid defensive front– blocking four attacks – Puget Sound’s Jackie Harvey managed to work around the wall of purple and white for six kills.
A hotly contested fourth set tested the mental and physical toughness of both teams as long rallies became the norm and the score was deadlocked five times down the stretch.
Service errors really hurt the Wildcats in the final frame. On four separate occasions, Linfield was poised to pull away from the Loggers, but then the ball went either into the net or over it and out of bounds, killing any momentum the home team had just earned.
Danielle Westerman (five), Florant (three) and Harvey (two) combined for 10 of Puget Sound’s 16 points in the fifth set. On the night, Florant finished with a match-high 18 kills, Harvey spiked 13 balls and Westerman added 12 kills.
Ritte-Camara led the Wildcats with 15 kills. Frazier, Leimomi Hookano and Kelsey Ludin (Sr., Bozeman, Mont.) contributed eight more each.
NEXT: The Wildcats have nearly a full week to rest up for their annual eastern Washington swing. Linfield plays at Whitman next Friday and at Whitworth the following evening. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Team-high 15 kills
Director of Sports Information
McMinnville, OR 97128