SPOKANE — Although Whitworth downed the Whitman College in three sets Wednesday night in a Northwest Conference volleyball matchup, the victory did not come easily for the Pirates.
The first set went to 28-26.
The Pirates narrowly edged the Whits in the second set, 25-23, before winning the third set, 25-20.
And in the first two sets, the Missionaries were tied or had the lead late.
The victory propels the Pirates to 4-3 in conference and 10-9 overall.
The loss puts the Missionaries at 3-4 in the NWC and 5-15 on the year.
Whitman held a 25-24 lead in the first set with Shae Kanakaole serving.
Whitworth’s Jalana White was able to keep the match alive with a kill, drawing the Pirates even at 25-all.
Whitworth took the lead 26-25 on a kill by Nicole Leonard, who had a match-high 16 on a .433 hitting percentage.
Whitman would not be fazed, though, as Kanakoale tied it on a kill — the assist from Hannah Linsenmayer.
But then another kill by Leonard and an attack error by Whitman gave the Pirates the hotly contested first set.
The Missionaries fell behind 5-0 early in the second set, but climbed their way back to tie it at 20-apeice. Leonard came through with another crucial kill and the Pirates maintained a one-point lead until clinching the set at 25-23.
In the third set, Whitman, facing an uphill battle, climbed to within one point at 20-19, but again, Leonard came through with a kill to give the Pirates a two-point cushion and they sailed to victory, 25-20.
Whitman’s Jillian Davis led the Missionaries with 13 kills to go along with 10 digs. Kanakaole added 10 kills and seven digs.
Setter Rachel Cline provided 22 assists and eight digs.
White added 12 kills for Whitworth.
The Missionaries travel to Linfield, winless in NWC play, for a 6 p.m. match on Saturday.