By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, CommunicationS
SALEM, Ore. -- Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) of Willamette University led all players with 12 kills, and teammate Jennifer Lane (Sr., MH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) hit .421 with nine kills, but the University of Puget Sound won two sets by the closest of margins to sweep the Bearcats, 25-23, 25-19, 25-23, on Friday, Sept. 27 at Cone Field House. The Loggers upped their record to 7-8 overall, 2-1 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette fell to 2-10 on the season, 1-2 in the NWC.
The match featured 24 ties and 13 lead changes, including 13 ties and six lead changes in the third set. The first set had 10 ties and six lead changes, before Puget Sound took the second set with only one tie and one lead change.
In addition to compiling 12 kills, Klotz also hit a respectable .225 and registered a team-high 16 digs. Lane's nine kills were achieved with only one attacking error, and she also contributed a match-high three service aces. Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute) supplied WU with 15 digs. Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Bach, HI/Maryknoll School) provided six digs. Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) dished out 17 assists, while Jessica Nash (Fy., S, Santa Clarita, CA/Saugus HS) added nine assists and a .346 setting percentage.
Melanie Siacotos and Katharine Carley each pounded out 11 kills for Puget Sound. Carley hit .318 and Siacotos hit .214. Chloe Akiona-Bannon tacked on eight kills for the Loggers. Sarah Blomenfield registered 31 assists. Akiona-Bannon and Blumenfield tied for the team lead with 13 digs.
Willamette built a 6-3 lead in the first set after scoring three consecutive points. The quick 3-0 run included one kill each from Kyana Benjamin (Jr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) and Klotz. the Bearcats went on to hold a 9-6 advantage following a kill by Queja, but Puget Sound tied the game at 12-12 several points later.
The Bearcats inched out to a 15-13 margin on another kill by Queja. WU retained the lead until the Loggers tied things up at 17-17. The Loggers scored next on a kill from Akiona-Bannon to move in front, and also held a 19-18 lead on a kill by Siacotos. A kill from Klotz tied the set, and the Bearcats took a 21-19 lead on an attacking error by Akiona-Bannon and a combo block by Benjamin and Lexi Martin (Fy., MH, Bellevue, WA/Interlake HS).
WU and Puget Sound were tied at 21, 22 and 23, before the Loggers scored on a combination block from Holman and Carley. Puget Sound gained the final point of the set on an attacking error by the Bearcats.
Puget Sound surged out to a 10-3 lead in the second set. The Bearcats battled back, using a 10-5 run that included two service aces by Lane to pull within 15-13. Puget Sound tallied the next point, but Willamette cut the marign to 17-16 four rallies later. Willamette also trailed by just a single point at 19-18 on another service ace by Lane. The Loggers answered with a 6-1 run to win the set, 25-19.
The third set was a battle. Willamette owned two-point leads eight times, including 19-17 on a kill by Queja, but neither team could grab a three-point advantage. The score was tied at 10-10 after 20 rallies and the teams were deadlocked at 20-20 after 40 rallies. The Loggers moved in front at 21-20, but WU added two scores on a kill by Lane and a kill by Benjamin for a 22-21 lead. It appeared that the Bearcats had added another point on a combo block, but one of the blockers was ruled to have hit the net. The point went to the Loggers to tie the score.
A combo block by Akiona-Bannon and Carley gave Puget Sound a 23-22 lead, and a kill from Holman gave the Loggers their first two-point lead of the set at 24-22. After a kill by Klotz, Carley added a kill to provide the Loggers with the final point.
Willamette will remain at home to take on George Fox University on Saturday, Sept. 28. Match time at Cone Field House is set for 6 p.m. (PDT).