WALLA WALLA - Whitman, down 2-0, fought back to force a fifth set here Saturday in Northwest Conference women's volleyball action.
Linfield's Kailana Ritte-Camara drilled home five fifth-set kills to lead the Wildcats to a 15-7 win and produce a 3-2 match victory.
"We responded well (to being down 2-0) and forced a fifth game," Missionary coach Carolyn Papineau said. "We started to figure things out so that we found out where we could put the ball down, and our blockers started keying in on their hitters. We just couldn't get it done in the fifth set."
Behind five Jillian Davis kills and nine Rachel Cline assists, Whitman raced to a 22-17 set-one lead and had the serve.
The Missionaries couldn't close the deal as the Wildcats closed on an 8-1 run to pull out a 25-23 win.
"We had an emotional match last night (a 3-1 win over George Fox)," Papineau said. "That played out a bit tonight in terms of how study we were in our play."
The Wildcats seized the momentum and limited Whitman to six kills in the second set and won 25-11 as the Wildcats seemed to return everything Whitman hit.
"They (Linfield) are great defenders," Papineau added. "That ball just keeps coming back. We have a young team and we aren't responding as quickly as we need to, but we're getting there."
Whitman went to intermission down 2-0.
The Missionaries went down 5-0 in the third before Annie Sing made a running save of a ball headed toward the Whitman bench to save a point as the Wildcats hit the return into the net.
From that point, Whitman climbed back into the set. Davis served two consecutive aces and Whitman grabbed an 11-9 lead.
Linfield fought back and had set and match point at 24-23, but Samantha Lau's serve found the net for a 24-24 tie.
Davis got one of her six set-three kills for a 25-24 lead, but Kelsey Ludin answered with a kill to make it 25-25. A kill by Courtney Brewer and a block by Brewer and Davis and the Missionaries were alive with a 27-25 win.
"It took us that long (into the third set) to get keyed into their hitters," Papineau said. "(And) to figure out where the openings were."
Linfield lost the momentum and Whitman went to a 18-7 lead in the fourth set. The Missionaries pounded home 12 kills and cruised to a 25-15 win to force the deciding fifth set.
A Linfield foot fault, a Davis kill, a Brewer kill, and the Missionaries opened a 3-0 lead in the fifth set. Linfield, following a kill from Ritte-Camara, grabbed the lead for good at 7-6. Whitman never recovered as the Missionaries made six errors in the set and only got three kills. Linfield finished on a 9-1 run to take the 15-7 win and the 3-2 match victory.
Whitman saw its two match win streak end with the loss and dropped to 2-10 in NWC play.
"We are showing so much improvement," Papineau said. "It's been a slow road, but a steady one. We're a much better team than we were."
Davis and Linfield's Ritte-Camara took game-high hitting honors as both posted 21 kills. Brewer finished with 12 kills, Cline added 34 assists, and Sing, with 24 digs, Rachel Sober with 15, and Olivia Nielson's part in seven blocks led the Missionary defenders.
In Friday action, Whitman won its second straight match with a 3-1 win over George Fox.
Whitman took 25-15 and 25-20 set wins, before the Bruins pulled out a 25-21 win.
The Missionaries ended it with a 25-13 set-four win to claim the match 3-1.
Davis had 16 kills, Samantha Cahill chipped in 13 kills, and Megan Bafus added 11.
Cline handed out 21 assists and Nielson had five blocks.
Whitman travels to Tacoma for week end matches with Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound Friday and Saturday.