WALLA WALLA — Outside hitter Nikki Long smashed 13 kills and added 10 digs Wednesday night as Walla Walla Community College celebrated its inaugural Breast Cancer Awareness Night with a 25-8, 25-23, 25-19 victory over Big Bend in NWAACC Eastern Region volleyball action at the Dietrich Dome.
"It was an honor for our program to host events in association with Breast Cancer Awareness," WWCC coach Tim Toon said. "There are some true warriors fighting this and all forms of cancer."
The Warriors improved to 5-4 in league, 21-14 overall, while the Vikings fell to 1-9 and 4-21.
Following ties at 2 and 3 in the opening set, WWCC busted the game open by scoring six of the next seven points. A kill by Cassie Phippen and a Madison Baxter block helped Walla Walla build a 9-4 lead.
Phippen ended with eight kills and five assists. Baxter — "explosive and effective at the net," Toon said — added seven kills and three assists.
After a hitting error, the Warriors ripped off 10 points in succession to assume a 14-point spread, 19-5. Long had three kills in that time frame, Corrine Holbrook contributed a termination of her own, and Ashley Magee served an ace.
Long closed out game one with a kill.
The stubborn Vikings hung with WWCC in game two — which featured 12 ties. The last equal tally was forged at 23-23 after a kill by Big Bend’s Becky Moudree.
But back-to-back blasts by Long and Magee — who ended up with four aces and five kills — brought the game to a positive conclusion for Walla Walla.
"Nikki was, by far, our best offensive weapon," Toon said.
A five-point surge midway through game three helped the Warriors put the match away. Leading 9-7, WWCC used a pair of Long kills, a kill and block by Phippen, and a Megan Tompkins’ ace to build its advantage to seven.
The lead grew to nine, 17-8, on a Phippen kill.
Big Bend got no closer than three points the rest of the way.
Tompkins had 20 digs, Sarah McLean chipped in with 15 assists, two aces, and nine digs, and Sharsti Goff set 20 assists and upped eight digs for Walla Walla.
"Sarah was solid and competitive," Toon said. "Because of Sharsti’s quality setting, we scored a lot of points when she was on the floor.
"We are now in a position to control our own destiny," said Toon, whose team is in a battle for the East’s fourth and final NWAACC Tournament berth. "A few more quality wins will push us over the top, hopefully starting with Treasure Valley."
The Warriors and Chuckars square off in the Dietrich Dome at 6 tonight.
"We lost to them in five sets at their place (earlier this season)," Toon said. "We hope to repay the favor and defend our home floor."