By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
LINCOLN, Neb. -- In the second of back-to-back matches for Willamette University at the Prairie Wolf Invitational on Friday, Sept. 8, Buena Vista (Iowa) defeated the Bearcats, 3-0. Willamette outlasted Simpson College (Iowa) 3-1 a bit earlier in the day, and then took on Buena Vista about 30 minutes later. It was Buena Vista's first match of the tournament, with the Beavers moving past the Bearcats, 25-21, 25-11, 25-17. The tournament, which is being hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan University, will conclude on Saturday, Sept. 9.
"It's not easy playing in back-to-back matches," Willamette Head Coach Tom Shoji said. "The first match expended us physically. In the second match against Buena Vista, it was more difficult and they were a physical team."
Willamette led for much of the first set, but Buena Vista finished with a 15-6 run. In the second set, the Beavers zoomed out to a 10-1 lead. In the third set, BVU and Willamette were tied at 12-12, before the Beavers ended the match with a 13-5 run.
"We hung right in there with them and there were some spots in the first set where we could have won," Shoji recalled. "They had more of the upper hand in set two. In set three, our younger players who got in competed well. At one point, we had five freshmen and one sophomore on the court. They just hung in there with them."
The match began with the Bearcats surging out to a 6-3 lead. BVU tied the first set at 6-6, but Willamette responded with a 6-1 run to build a 12-7 margin. The run included two kills by Lauren Stiles (So., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School) , as well as one kill each from Jaiden Mason (Fr., S/OPP, Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian School) and Jennifer Lane (So., MH/OH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS).
A bit later, Willamette claimed a 14-9 lead when Lane pounded down a kill. The Bearcats also led 15-10, before a 4-0 run by the Beavers started Buena Vista's comeback. The Beavers tied the set at 16-16 on a kill by Jamie Navinskey and moved in front on the next rally when Jade Schaap earned a service ace. WU and BVU each added a point, and then the Beavers won three consecutive rallies for a 21-17 edge. Buena Vista won the set, 25-21.
Five kills, two blocks and two service aces helped BVU score 10 of the first 11 points in the second set. Willamette went on a quick 3-0 run, including one kill each by Arianna Khan (Fr., OPP, Yuba, CA/River Valley HS) and Stiles, to pull within 10-4. The Beavers pulled away with an 8-3 run for an 18-7 advantage on their way to a 25-11 triumph.
In the third set, the Bearcats were tied with Buena Vista seven times over the first 24 rallies, ending with a string of ties at 10-10, 11-11 and 12-12. The next five points went to the Beavers on a kill by Schaap, a combo block by Schaap and Serena Sandvig, a service ace by Navinskey, and two attacking errors by Willamette, as BVU increased its lead to 17-12. A service error by Buena Vista pulled WU within four points, but the Beavers countered with an 8-4 run to win the set, 25-17.
Schaap and Ali Grein led Buena Vista with 10 kills apiece. Grein hit a solid .318. Brooke Runneberg provided seven kills and a .778 hitting percentage, while recording no errors on nine attacks. Buena Vista achieved a .261 team hitting percentage. Allie Cooke topped BVU with 20 digs. Navinskey supplied 16 digs and Grein finished with 10 digs. Summer Goss produced 34 assists. The Beavers registered 7.0 teams total blocks, led by Schaap and Sandvig, each with four block assists.
Lane pounded down six kills for Willamette and attained a .308 hitting percentage. She also made nine digs. Stiles chipped in five kills, while Mason and Khan each totaled four kills. Nicolette Seina (Fr., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/Moanalua HS) topped the WU defense with 10 digs. Elena Vasquez (Fr., DS/OH, Kingston, WA/North Kitsap HS) matched Lane with nine digs.
The Bearcats equaled Buena Vista with 7.0 team total blocks. Emma Liband (Sr., MH, Sandpoint, ID/Sandpoint HS) led Willamette with five block assists.
"In the second and third sets, Arianna Kahn went in and really played well as a hitter," Shoji said. "And we played Kyana Benjamin (Fr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) and she got a block. We competed really hard at the end of the match, which was really good for us to see. We have to come back and play two really good teams tomorrow. It's another test for us ... it's a good tournament for us."
Willamette is scheduled to play two matches on Saturday, starting with a match-up against University of Wisconsin-Platteville at 10 a.m. CDT/8 a.m. PDT. The Bearcats will conclude the tournament against host Nebraska Wesleyan University starting at 2 p.m. CDT/12 p.m. PDT. Prior to playing the Bearcats, Nebraska Wesleyan will take on Simpson at 12 p.m. CDT/10 a.m. PDT.