By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
SALEM, Ore. -- Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) pounded out 19 kills for Willamette University on Saturday, Oct. 5, and teammate Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) supplied 49 assists, as the Bearcats won three sets in a row after dropping the first set to defeat visiting Whitman College, 3-1, at Cone Field House. Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Bach, HI/Maryknoll School) amassed 15 kills for Willamette.
The Bearcats improved to 4-11 overall and to 3-3 in the NWC. Whitman fell to 0-12 on the season, 0-6 in the NWC.
Overall, Willamette totaled 58 kills and achieved a .209 team hitting percentage, while limiting Whitman to 45 kills. The Blues hit .127 as a team. The Bearcats also gained a 94-83 edge in digs and held a slim edge in team total blocks with 12.0, compared to 11.0 for the Blues.
The lead in digs started with Sato's 26 stops, but also included 18 digs from Lauren Stiles (Sr., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School) and 17 digs by Porter. Klotz registered 13 digs. Lane led Willamette with eight total blocks, including three block solos. Klotz contributed six block assists, while Kyana Benjamin (Jr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) was credited with four block assists.
"We had some nice play from Natalie Klotz. She did a nice job after a tough Friday night. Jennifer Lane also had a better night. We had very steady play from Dani Queja, and a good performance by Brooke Lohuis coming in and playing the whole match. She did a lot to help win this match. And finally, having Lauren Stiles available (after an injury), made it a really good night."
— Willamette Head Coach Tom Shoji
Taylor Knight of Whitman topped all players with 21 kills, but on other Blues reached double figures. Christina Boxberger was second on the team with seven kills. Libero Brooke Valentine was a strong player for the Blues with 25 digs. Tate Cadang made 13 digs.
Willamette led 5-1 in the first set, but Whitman battled back for a 25-21 win. The Bearcats were in front 7-3 after Quieja's third kill, and later held leads of 10-6 on a kill by Klotz and 12-7 on a kill from Brooke Lohuis (Fy., S, Dublin, CA/Dublin HS). Willamette also owned a 15-12 advantage, right before Whitman went on an 8-0 run to move in front, 20-15. The run included three kills by Knight.
The Bearcats pulled back within 21-20 on a kill by Lohuis following a blocking error by Whitman. WU also cut the lead to a single point at 22-21 on a kill from Klotz, but Whitman scored on the next three rallies.
WU trailed 6-2 in the second set, before a 7-0 surge created a 9-6 lead for the Bearcats. Lane started the run with a kill and later added a block solo and a block assist. A bit later, Whitman tied the game at 10-10 on a kill by Knight. The Bearcats answered by winning four consecutive rallies on three kills by Queja and one kill from Benjamin. Whitman reduced the margin to a single point at 15-14 on a service ace by Valentine, but a kill and a block assist by Lane started the Bearcats on a 10-2 run to take the set, 25-16.
In the third set, the Bearcats registered the first four points on their way to a 7-3 lead. Willamette owned a 10-6 edge before Whitman put together a 5-1 run to force a tie at 11-11. The Bearcats scored next on a kill by Lohuis and eventually held a 14-11 lead. The Blues managed to rally with a 9-5 outburst to pass the Bearcats at 20-19.
A service error by the Blues allowed WU to tie the score, and the Bearcats grabbed a 22-20 lead following back-to-back attacking errors by Whitman. A combo block by Benjamin and Porter pushed WU's advantage to 23-20. The Bearcat prevailed in the set, 25-21.
The fourth set was close through the early points with six ties through 10-10. Willamette earned the next three points, as Lane registered two kills and then combined with Klotz on a block. After Whitman scored to pull within 13-11, the Bearcats tacked on four points for a 17-11 advantage. Although the Blues got as close as three points three times, including 20-17, the Bearcats completed the set with a 5-1 run for a25-18 victory.
Willamette will play at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, on Friday, Oct. 11. Match time is set for 7 p.m. (PDT).