Stiles Pounds 9 Kills, Hits .400 to Send Bearcats Past Illinois Tech, 3-0, in Portland

Lauren Stiles (Jr., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School)
Lauren Stiles (Jr., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Lauren Stiles (Jr., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School) piled up nine kills and a .400 hitting percentage to help Willamette University defeat Illinois Institute of Technology, 3-0, on Friday, Aug. 31 in the Oregon Trail Classic at Lewis & Clark College. The Bearcats won 25-20, 25-10, 25-18.

Stiles committed just one attacking error on 20 total attacks during the match. It was her only offensive error in two matches on Friday. She also hit .400 in a 3-0 win over Johnson & Wales University (Colo.) to open the tournament. She ended the day with 15 kills, one error and 35 total attacks, helping Willamette claim a 2-0 start. Illinois Tech fell to 0-1.

After earning nine service aces against Johnson & Wales, the Bearcats amassed 13 service aces versus Illinois Tech. Natalie Klotz (Fr., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) led the way with four aces, while Jaiden Mason (So., S/OPP, Charlotte, NC/Charlotte Christian School) supplied three aces.

Willamette held Illinois Tech to a .029 hitting percentage, as the Scarlet Hawks finished with 28 kills and 25 attacking errors. Willamette also earned 28 kills, but the Bearcats hit .202 while committing just nine attacking errors. In Friday's two games, the Bearcats limited their opponents to a combined .038 hitting percentage.

Against Illinois Tech, Klotz added five kills for Willamette. Jennifer Lane (Jr., MH/OH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) registered three kills on just six attacks, as she hit .500 for the Bearcats. Mason kept the offense going with 23 assists, while Elena Vasquez (So., LIB/DS, Kingston, WA/North Kitsap HS) led Willamette's defensive effort with 10 digs. Stiles provided eight digs.

Mia Phelps topped the Scarlet Hawks with seven kills. Courtney Curcio accumulated a match-high 14 digs. Courtney Darling contributed 11 assists and 10 digs. Natalie Freund also supplied 11 assists.

The first set was tied 1-1 before Willamette moved in front on a kill by Stiles. The Bearcats never relinquished the lead during the set, and led 10-4 following a combo block by Klotz and Kyana Benjamin (So., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS). Illinois Tech pulled as close as 12-10 and 13-11 following a pair of kills by Karen Marrufo-Zubaran. Willamette tallied the next three points to start an 8-4 run for a 21-15 edge. WU won the set, 25-20.

A big 10-2 run to start the second set helped the Bearcats grab a 25-10 victory. Klotz served the first seven points, as Willamette took a 6-0 lead before Illinois Tech scored. Klotz provided three of the points on service aces. Stiles added a service ace for WU's eighth point. Later, Mason completed the set with back-to-back aces for the 24th and 25th points.

In the third set, there were four ties and two lead changes. Willamette led 6-3 following a kill by Mason, but the Scarlet Hawks surged in front, 8-7, and eventually owned a 14-11 advantage. Willamette tied the score at 15-15 and moved in front 16-15 on back-to-back attacking errors by Illinois Tech. 

A bit later, Willamette used a 7-1 run to claim a 24-17 advantage. The run began with a kill by Jo Stensaas (Sr., MH/OPP, Weed, CA/Weed HS) and ended with an attacking error by the Scarlet Hawks. The teams exchanged serving errors on the next two rallies, as WU won the set, 25-18.

The Bearcats will play two more games in the Oregon Trail Classic on Saturday, Sept. 1 at L&C. Willamette will take on University of Wisconsin-Stout at 10 a.m. (PDT), before facing Mills College (Calif.) at 3 p.m.