TACOMA - A big comeback victory in the first set wasn't enough to carry Whitman College past Pacific Lutheran in a Friday night volleyball matcH.
Pacific Lutheran, ranked No. 22 nationally, strengthened its hold on second place in the Northwest Conference, overcoming a 27-25 loss in the opening set to take the next three by scores of 25-20, 25-9 and 25-12.
The Lutes, now 10-3 in the NWC and 18-5 overall, dropped Whitman to 2-11 and 3-16.
The Missionaries fell behind 17-7 in the first set before staging one of their biggest rallies of the season.
Whitman got two kills from junior Courtney Brewer and one each first-year players Megan Bafus and Jazmin Moledina to key the initial surge. Rachel Shober served six straight points, collecting one ace in the process, to help the Missionaries trim their deficit to 17-14.
The Lutes stretched their lead back to 22-17, but Whitman pulled even at 23-all thanks to two more Bafus kills.
Brewer's kill canceled a Pacific Lutheran set point, knotting the score at 25-25. Moledina's ace followed by a kill from sophomore Jillian Davis completed Whitman's comeback win.
The second set was close most of the way. Whitman held its last leads at 8-7 and 9-8 before the home team inched in front 15-12. A Davis kill and service ace from sophomore Taylor Aschenbrenner had the Missionaries within striking distance at 21-19.
But two kills by Erin Bremond helped the Lutes finish a second-set victory, evening the match at 1-1.
Pacific Lutheran raced away to a 9-1 lead to start the third set and cruised to a quick win.
The Lutes maintained the upper hand in winning the fourth and final set, jumping in front 12-3 and allowing Whitman no closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Brewer led Whitman's offense with nine kills. Davis added eight kills and 15 digs while Bafus and Moledina finished with seven kills apiece.
First-year libero Annie Sing sparked the back-row defense with 22 digs, sharing match-high honors with Pacific Lutheran's Blair Bjorkman. The Missionaries also got 13 digs from Shober and 11 more from Aschenbrenner.
Sophomore Rachel Cline handed out 18 assists, dividing the setting duties with Aschenbrenner, who had 14 assists.
Kelsie Moore had 15 kills for the Lutes while Bremond had 13. Samantha North distributed 42 assists and Rose Mattson collected 20 digs.