WALLA WALLA - With Whitman College already trailing Whitworth two sets to one, first-year outside hitter Jillian Davis slammed four straight kills to pull the Missionaries into a 13-13 tie in Wednesday night's fourth set in Spokane.
Hoping to force a fifth set, Whitman got a fifth straight kill from sophomore Courtney Brewer for a 14-13 lead.
The Pirates then ripped off five unanswered points to regain the upper hand, but kills by sophomore Olivia Nielson and Davis followed by a Whitworth attack error got the Missionaries back to within a point at 19-18.
Whitman's hopes for a fifth set vanished in a hurry, however, as Whitworth took the next six points for a 25-18 victory that sealed a 3-1 Northwest Conference victory.
The Pirates were victorious in two of the first three sets (25-16, 16-25, 25-16) before winning the fourth.
Whitworth upped its record to 12-6 overall and 9-2 in the NWC. The young Missionaries slipped to 6-14 and 3-8.
Davis, who leads the conference in kills, finished with a match-high 18 kills along with 16 digs, two service aces and two blocks.
Whitman also got seven kills from sophomore Carrie Cecil, six from Brewer, five from Nielson and four from Shober. Brewer and Shober had three blocks apiece.
Two more first-year Missionaries, Rachel Cline and Becca Gotz, contributed 32 assists and 13 digs, respectively.
Whitworth jumped in front 7-2 to start game one, but Whitman closed to within 13-11 on Brewer's service ace. Three Cecil kills kept the Missionaries within reach at 21-19, and the Missionaries still trailed by just points at 22-20 after a Shober kill.
But the Whitworth won the next three points to pocket the first set.
Nursing a 9-8 lead in the second set, Whitman outscored its host 6-1 over the next several minutes to build a 15-9 cushion. The Pirates drew no closer than five points the rest of the way as the Missionaries squared the match at one game apiece.
Whitworth then dominated the third game after racing away to leads of 8-2, 16-7 and 20-9.
Whitman hopes to get back on the winning track when it plays George Fox at 7 p.m. Friday night in Newberg, Ore.