Missionaries falter against Loggers in four

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TACOMA - For the second time in as many nights, the Whitman College women's volleyball team was unable to capitalize on a victory in the first set, falling in four sets to Puget Sound.

Puget Sound, shaking off a 25-22 loss in the opening set, won the next two sets 25-16 and 25-17 before repelling a determined Whitman effort to close out the match 25-21 in the fourth.

The Loggers finished the weekend with records of 9-5 in the Northwest Conference and 17-5 on the season.

Despite a match-high 22 kills (and 10 digs) from sophomore Jillian Davis, Whitman slid to 2-12 in the NWC and 3-17 overall.

Davis, an outside hitter, knocked down eight kills to lead the Missionary charge in the first set. Junior middle blocker Courtney Brewer and first-year right-side hitter Megan Bafus added three kills apiece.

Knotted at 13 in that opening set, Whitman used a kill by sophomore Maddy Bell and two more from Davis to take the lead for good. The Loggers drew to within 22-20, but two more Davis kills put Whitman at set point.

A few plays later, a Puget Sound service error put Whitman over the top.

The home team jumped in front 14-7 in the second set, but Davis drilled three more kills and teamed with Brewer for a block to rally the Missionaries. The surge included a service ace from junior Becca Gotz and had Whitman within three poitns at 16-13.

Puget Sound countered with a 9-3 finishing run to take the set and even the match at 1-1.

The Loggers kept control in the third, building leads of 9-5, 16-9 and 19-12 en route to an eight-point win.

Whitman put up a better fight in the fourth, getting four kills from Davis, two from Brewer and one from Bafus in the early going. A service ace by junior Olivia Nielson followed by a Logger attack error had the Missionaries in front 11-8.

After Puget Sound tallied eight of the next 10 points, Whitman punched back with a 7-2 run that produced a 20-18 Missionary lead. That last hurrah for the visitors included two Davis kills, a service ace from sophomore Taylor Aschenbrenner, and two blocks Nielson shared at the net with Davis and Bafus.

Two points for the Loggers forged the night's final tie at 20, but a Nielson kill got a one-point lead back from Whitman.

With the possibility of a deciding fifth set coming into view, Puget Sound reeled off the next five points to take the set and the match.

Bafus with eight kills and Bafus with seven added to Whitman's offense. Sophomore Rachel Cline and Aschenbrenner divided the setting duties, handing out 37 assists between them.

First-year libero Annie Sing ruled the back row with a match-high 24 digs. Gotz had 14 digs and junior Rachel Shober 13.

Stat leaders for Puget Sound were Brynn Blickenstaff (16 kills), Jenni Brehove (38 assists) and Juliette Witous (22 digs).

Whitman closes out its 2011 season next week at home, hosting Whitworth at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Lewis & Clark at 5 p.m. Saturday.

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