Sato Registers 15 Digs, but Bearcats Fall to Lewis & Clark in NWC Match

Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute)
Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute) earned 15 digs to lead three Bearcats in double figures, but Lewis & Clark College defeated Willamette University, 3-0, in a Northwest Conference volleyball match at the Pamplin Sports Center on Friday, Sept. 20. There were 13 ties and seven lead changes in the the first two sets, but the Pioneers prevailed in two close battles on their way to winning the match, 25-21, 29-27, 25-15.

L&C improved to 5-4 overall, 1-0 in the NWC. Willamette, which defeated Linfield College 3-0 on Wednesday Sept. 18, fell to 2-9 on the season, 1-1 in the NWC.

Joining Sato with double-digit digs were Jessica Nash (Fy., S, Santa Clarita, CA/Saugus HS) and Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Bach, HI/Maryknoll School). Nash earned 12 digs, while Queja finished with 11 digs. On offense, the Bearcats were led by Jennifer Lane (Sr., MH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) with nine kills and a .304 hitting percentage. Queja and Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) each contributed sevne kils, while Kyana Benjamin (Jr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) supplied six kills and hit .286.

For L&C, Ka'anel Pakaki-Pias topped all players with 11 kills. Kendall Malone provided nine kills. Makena Ohlmaier tied for third on the Pioneers' offensive chart with six kills, but registered only one attacking error and hit .357 for the match. Michelle McGinn provided 27 assists. Blythe Ballesteros was credited with a match-high 19 digs. Pakaki-Pias tacked on 18 digs, while Malone achieved 14 digs.

The first set included seven ties and three lead changes. Willamette built a 3-1 lead on one kill each from Klotz and Benjamin, plus an attacking error by the Pioneers. Several points later, the Bearcats owned an 8-5 advantage following a service ace by Steele Jasa.

Lewis & Clark soon took a 9-8 lead on a Willamette attacking error. A bit later, L&C gained a 16-12 margin on a kill by Malone. WU fought back to within 18-17, but the Pioneers held leads of 21-18 and 23-20 on their way to a 25-21 win.

Willamette surged out in front of L&C 6-1 in the second set. Sato served during each of the final five points in the run. The Bearcats continued to hold five-point leads at 12-7 and 15-10, before Lewis & Clark went on an 8-4 run to cut the margin to 19-18 on a kil by Malone.

Two kills in a row by Lane gave WU a 21-18 edge. The Bearcats later held a 23-20 margin following a bad set by the Pioneers. L&C ran off four consecutive points -- two on kills by Ohlmaier -- to claim a 24-23 lead.

The Bearcats scored next on a service error by the Pioneers. After a kill from Ballesteros put L&C in front, 25-24, the Bearcats won the next two rallies for a 26-25 lead. WU also led 27-26, before the Pioneers used kills by Pakaki-Pais, Emma Ehlers and Kelsey Park to win the set, 29-27.

L&C held a slim 8-7 lead after 15 rallies in the third set, before the Pioneers went on a 5-0 run for a 13-7 advantage. The Bearcats scored next on a kill by Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute), but WU never got closer, as L&C won the set, 25-15.

Willamette will play the University of Puget Sound in an NWC match on Friday, Sept. 27 at Cone Field House. Match time is set for 7 p.m. (PDT).