Whits Put Up Good Fight in Loss to Lutes

News Release Date:
Friday, October 30

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Whitman College put up a good fight in all three games, but Pacific Lutheran clinched a Northwest Conference volleyball title with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-21 victory Friday night in Tacoma, Wash.

The Lutes stayed perfect in the NWC, improving to 13-0, while running their season mark to 17-6. The victory keeps Pacific Lutheran no fewer than four victories clear of its nearest competitors with just three matches remaining.

Alex Graves

Whitman (1-12, 4-16) had its moments in each of Friday's games, leading 16-13 in the first, forging a 14-14 tie in the second, and closing to within 22-21 in the third.

But the Lutes, in pursuit of their third straight NWC title, picked off big points at the end of each game to complete the sweep.

Alex Graves, Whitman's senior captain, led the Missionaries with a match-high 15 kills and 13 digs.

Courtney Brewer and Carrie Cecil, two first-year players, added eight and six kills, respectively. Katie Richards, a junior setter, handed out 31 assists and collected nine digs.

Junior Kelsie Butts with 15 digs and sophomore Katie Miller with 13 paced the Missionary defensive efforts.

Whitman led 16-13 in game one before a service error triggered a 6-0 Pacific Lutheran spurt.

Kills by first-year Missionaries Olivia Nielson and Rachel Shober pulled Whitman to within a point at 19-18, and Cecil's kill again trimmed the Lute lead to one point at 20-19. The home team tallied five of next six points to take the set.

Whitman held the early advantage in game two. Brewer's kill gave the Missionaries an 8-4 cushion and a Graves kill made it 10-5. The Lutes responded again, reeling off seven straight points to regain the lead. 

Kelsie Butts

The Missionaries evened the second set at 14-14 on the strength of another Brewer kill. After the Lutes scored the next four points, Whitman got two more kills from Brewer to trail by just a single point at 18-17. Pacific Lutheran pulled away, winning four of the next five points, and wrapped up the game on a Missionary service error.

The Luters worked their way to a 15-9 advantage in game three, but back-to-back kills by Nielson and Shober kept Whitman close at 17-16. Three straight kills by Graves, Shober and Cecil sliced the Missionary deficit to 20-19.

Miller's kill, followed by the opposition's attack error, pulled Whitman to within a point at 22-21. The Lutes polished off their title-clinching victory, however, with a kill, Whitman attack error, and service ace.

Whitman stays in Tacoma on Saturday for a 6 p.m. match at Puget Sound.

Box score

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu