By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Willamette University defeated Simpson College (Iowa), 3-1, on Friday, Sept. 8, as the Bearcats opened the Prairie Wolf Invitational, hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan University. Kendall Fox (So., OH, Dupont, WASteilacoom HS) contributed 11 kills for Willamette, while teammate Lauren Stiles (So., OH, Altadena, CAFlintridge Preparatory School) registered a double-double with 10 kills and 10 digs. The Bearcats won the match, 25-21, 17-25, 25-21, 25-18. Both teams moved to 2-3 on the season.
Fox earned a .360 hitting percentage on 25 attacks, as she committed only two attacking errors. Lane hit .214 on her way to the double-double. She also provided two block assists.
Jaiden Mason (Fr., S/OPP, Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian School) added eight kills and nine digs, plus a team-high 19 assiists, one service ace and three block assists. Jennifer Lane (So., MH/OH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) finished with seven kills, 11 digs, two aces and one block assist. As a team, the Bearcats recorded 42 kills and 8.0 team total blocks. WU registered 61 digs, while Simpson was credited with 53 digs.
"It went four sets and we played pretty well," Willamette Head Coach Tom Shoji said. "We had some good play by Lauren Stiles, who was very steady. Kendall Fox did very well too, as well as Jaiden Mason. We were much smoother as a team and we recovered pretty quickly. It was a good match compared to a week ago."
The Storm received 11 kills each from Hannah Lester and Cassie Hoefling. Lester led Simpson with four block assists. Hoefling and three other players topped the Storm lineup with eight digs. Katrina Hartman supplied nine kills and three total blocks. Simpson amassed 49 kills and earned 6.0 team total blocks.
Willamette ended the match with a .163 team hitting percentage, while Simpson hit .152. Both teams recorded more aces than errors while serving. The Bearcats had eight service aces and committed four serving errors. Simpson landed 11 aces and had nine serving errors.
A strong .355 hitting percentage in the first set helped the Bearcats rally from an 8-5 deficit to take a 25-21 win and gain an early edge in the match.
After falling behind by the three-point margin, Willamette went on a 3-0 run to tie the game. WU then moved in front, 9-8, on a kill by Fox. Simpson scored the next point for another tie, but Willamette countered with five points in a row to take a 14-9 advantage. The 5-0 run started and ended with a kill by Lane. In between, the Storm committed three attacking errors.
Simpson recovered with three kills and a service ace over the next four points to pull within 14-13. The Storm tied the set at 17-17 on a servicie ace by Morgan Taylor, but a service error by Taylor, plus a combo block by Stiles and Jo Stensaas (Jr., MH/OPP, Weed, CA/Weed HS), gave the Bearcats a 19-17 edge. Alysson Rose of Simpson followed with a kill, reducing WU's lead to a single point. The Bearcats completed the set with a 6-3 run, including two kills by Stiles and one kill each for Fox and Lane.
The second set featured seven ties over the first 18 rallies, leaving the teams deadlock at 9-9. Simpson used a kill by Taylor, a combo block from Lester and Hartman, and a kill by Lester to take a 12-9 lead. WU cut the margin to two points twice over the next four points, but another 3-0 run extended Simpson's advantage to 16-11. The Storm won the set, 25-17.
Simpson held the lead early in the third set, before the Bearcats moved in front at 9-8 and never relinquished the lead. Willamette went on a 5-0 run to take an 11-10 margin and expand it to 16-10. Fox pounded out two kills during the run. The Storm eventually pulled within 20-19, as Lester and Hartman combined on a block for the final point in a 9-4 surge.
WU tacked on the next three points on Simpson miscues, as the Storm committed a serving error and two attacking errors. The second hiitting error was the result of a block by Mason and Emma Liband (Sr., MH, Sandpoint, ID/Sandpoint HS). Simpson cut the deficit to 23-21, but WU closed out the set with a serving error by the Storm and a kill by Fox.
The Bearcats finished the match by pulling away toward the ned of the fourth set. Simpson's only lead in the set was at 3-2, which was soon followed by a 4-4 tie. The Bearcats put together a 6-2 run for a 10-6 lead. Four WU players earned a kill during the run.
After the Storm reduced the margin to 11-9, Willamette took charge with a 6-1 surge for a 17-10 advantage. Simpson never got closer than four points the rest of the way, as WU prevailed 25-18.
Willamette was scheduled to play Buena Vista University (Iowa) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CST/5:30 p.m. PST. The Beavers of BVU will be playing their first match of the tournament.