MCMINNVILLE, Ore. — Linfield College gradually wore down Whitman College here Friday night in a Northwest Conference women’s volleyball match.
The game was decided in three sets, but it was a close, hard-fought battle all the way as the Wildcats prevailed 30-28, 26-24, 25-22.
“Linfield came out and played well,” Whitman coach Matt Helm said of the Wildcats, who improved to 4-11 in conference matches and 9-14 overall.
The loss snapped a five-game Whitman winning streak and blunted the Missionaries’ bid to catch Pacific University for a share of third place in the final Northwest Conference standings.
Pacific overtook Whitworth 22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 25-21, 15-10 Friday in Forest Grove, Ore., to improve to 10-5 in the conference and 11-12 overall. Whitman, which plays at Pacific Saturday, fell two games behind the Boxers with an 8-7 league mark and a 10-12 record overall.
“We would like to have taken care of business, but we understand that anything can happen in this league,” Helm said. “I think we outhit them and outblocked them, but we made some key errors at crucial times, and we had some difficulty receiving the ball.
“We’ve been playing some really good volleyball, but last night was not one of our better matches.”
Whitman still needs a victory Saturday to ensure sole possession of fourth place in the final NWC standings. George Fox, which lost to first-place Pacific Lutheran University 25-20, 21-25, 25-19, 19-25, 15-11 in Newberg, Ore., is just a game behind the Missionaries at 7-8 in league games and 9-13 for the year.
The Bruins finish their season Saturday at Willamette (6-9, 8-14), which defeated Lewis & Clark (2-13, 6-18) 25-22, 25-17, 25-14) Friday night in Salem.
“We have to refocus tonight,” Helm said of Saturday’s season finale. “And we have nothing to lose. All of the preseason picks had us finishing last in the conference, and worst-case scenario we will end up in fifth.”
Whitman senior Courtney Brewer and junior Jilian Davis both registered double-digit kills in Friday’s hard-luck loss to the Wildcats.
Brewer led with 13 kills and also contributed eight blocks, two of them stuff blocks, and three digs. Davis’ stat line included 10 kills, 20 digs, one assist and the team’s only serving ace.
“I thought Courtney had an outstanding game and led us in hitting percentage at .323,” Helm said.
Freshman Hannah Linsenmayer was Whitman’s digs leader with 22 to go along with two assists. Junior Rachel Cline compiled a team-high 36 assists, added 20 digs and seven block assists.
Megan Bafus, a sophomore opposite from Kenmore, Wash., scored seven kills and one block assist; sophomore outside hitter Jazmine Moledina scored seven kills and five digs; and senior middle blocker Olivia Nielson chipped in with four kills, six digs and two block assists.
Junior defensive specialist Becca Gotz finished with 11 digs and one kill, and senior opposite Rachel Shober totaled nine digs.
“I am proud of the way we have performed this season, regardless of the outcome Saturday. Our team has competed and improved over the season, and we’re still playing them one game at a time.”