WALLA WALLA - Peeling a cantankerous fifth-set monkey off its back, Whitman College ended its fall season in fine fashion with a 3-2 volleyball victory over Northwest Conference rival Lewis & Clark Saturday night in Sherwood Center.
Whitman, which entered its season finale with a frustrating 0-6 mark in five-set battles, cast out those demons by winning eight of the night's last nine points.
That made Whitman a winner by scores of 25-27, 25-17, 25-20, 23-25, 15-8.
Whitman (3-13 NWC, 4-18 overall) deployed a balanced attack led by Jillian Davis, who hit .298 on the outside while collecting 18 kills, 21 digs and three service aces.
Missionaries Megan Bafus and Samantha Cahill added a total of 18 kills on the perimeter while juniors Olivia Nielson and Courtney Brewer powered 17 kills in the middle.
Nielson also made two solo blocks while she and Brewer each finished with three block assists.
The block-happy Missionaries also got four block assists at the net from Bafus and three more from Maddy Bell, who gave Whitman a big boost down the stretch.
Taylor Aschenbrenner and Rachel Cline shared the setting, handing out a total of 46 assists. Libero Annie Sing came up with 18 digs.
Lewis & Clark's Margaret Dowling and Jennifer Dowdy combined for 31 kills and 32 digs. Kataleya Milan and Erika James split another 17 kills while James also returned 20 digs.
Leia Matsunaga distributed 47 assists for the Pioneers, who finished with a 13-13 season record that included a 9-7 mark in the NWC.
Lewis & Clark jumped in front 5-3 in early in the fifth set, but kills by Bafus and Cahill produced a 5-5 tie.
After kills by Brewer and Cahill made it 7-6 Whitman, another Cahill kill and a service ace by Becca Gotz lifted the Missionaries into a 9-7 advantage.
A Pioneer attack error followed by a too-long Missionary serve put Whitman's lead at 10-8. Brewer's kill then triggered a run of five straight points that finished the set and match in the home team's favor.
The closing run included Whitman's 11th block of the night, one shared by Cline and Bell.
Lewis & Clark bolted in front 16-11 in the first set before Whitman got untracked and eventually pulled even at 24-all on a Brewer kill. Pioneer kills by Milan and Dowdy, sandwiched around a Davis kill, gave the the visitors a set point at 26-25.
Nielson stuffed a kill at the net on the next point, but Whitman's celebration was cut short by an official's ruling that Nielson had reached over the net. That handed the point and first set to Lewis & Clark.
The two sides traded points to start the second set, forging ties on points one through 10. Whitman then took charge with an 10-2 run and cruised to an eight-point win.
Nielson's ace and four Pioneer miscues staked Whitman to a 5-0 lead in the third. Lewis & Clark drew no closer than three points the rest of the way as the Missionaries controlled the set from start to finish.
Whitman trailed for much of the fourth set but used two Cahill kills to even the count at 22-22. After Dowling and Bell swapped kills for a stalemate at 23, a Missionary service error and attack error delivered the set to Lewis & Clark.