The volleyball team traveled to Colorado Springs, CO to participate in the Molten Spike It Up Classic, hosted by Colorado College this past weekend. The team exhibited a few impressive individual performances but were unable to muster a win in the four games that they played on Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7. The team was only able to win one set in the 13 total sets played at the tournament.
In the opening game against La Verne College, the team suffered a 3-1 loss but senior Jennifer Lane provided the team with 16 kills. A kill is when a player strikes the ball into the opposing team’s court and no opposing player is able to return the ball, resulting in a point for the first team. Junior Kyana Benjamin and first-year Lexi Martin each added seven kills for the Bearcats team. Sophomore Natalie Klotz contributed 18 digs, which is defined as a prevention of a kill attempt by the other team. The Bearcats led late into the first two sets but La Verne was able to come back to take an early 2-0 overall lead. Willamette won the third set with a narrow margin 25-22 to close in on La Verne but lost in the final set 25-18.
The second game on Friday was played against Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in which two first-years from Hawaii led the Bearcats in kills and digs. First-year Dani Queja earned 11 kills and first-year Emma Porter provided the team with 17 digs. MIT played well against the Bearcats and ended the match with a hitting percentage of 0.252 compared to WU’s 0.085. The Bearcats lost with a deficit of six points in the first and third set but competed well in the second set, losing 26-24.
The Bearcats lost both games on Saturday against Colorado College and LeTourneau, getting swept 3-0 in both matches. Klotz led the team with nine kills and first-year Shyla Sato led the team with 13 digs. WU held an early four-point lead in the first set against Colorado College and sustained their lead until halfway through the set at 15-11. However, the Tigers found some momentum and reversed the score, first tying the set at 21-21, and then scoring the next four points to win 25-21. The second set was tightly contested with both teams holding the score margin to three points or less throughout the set. With the score tied at 16-16, the Tigers surged forward and went on an 8-2 run to win the set. Late into the third set, the Bearcats trailed 18-11 and although the team put up a good fight, they were unable to come back from the deficit.
The final game of the Classic was against LeTourneau, in which the Bearcats were swept 3-0. Lane led the team in kills with a total of 11 and Porter tied her season record with 18 digs and ended the match with a 0.231 hitting percentage. In the first set, the teams battled to keep the score close tying at 9-9, 14-14 and 18-18 before LeTourneau scored five consecutive points to take the lead for good. The Bearcats battled back to 23-21 but lost 25-21. The Bearcats advanced early in the second set, taking an early 6-3 lead but eventually losing it on a seven-point run by the Yellowjackets. LeTourneau grabbed a five-point lead, 18-13 and moved on to win, 25-18. In the final set of the match, WU and LeTourneau fought to tie in the middle of the set, 14-14. The Yellowjackets surged forward to take a three-point lead, 17-14, but the Bearcats answered back to tie the game again at 19-19. The Bearcats were one point away from losing, 24-22, and managed to score one more point before losing to LeTourneau, 25-23.
After this past weekend’s matches, WU dropped their overall season record to 1-8, their only win coming against Central Iowa in the first game of the season. The Bearcats will take a short break from play after a canceled match against Multnomah University that was supposed to take place on Sept. 11. WU will resume on Wednesday, Sept. 18 against Linfield College in the first Northwest Conference (NWC) game of the season. The game will take place at Cone Field House and is set to begin at 7 p.m. (PST).