Volleyball wins big home games to tie PLU for lead in NWC

After a quick shutout on Friday night and a close win on Saturday, the volleyball team has their first chance at a conference title since the 2011-2012 season. The team is now tied with Pacific Lutheran University for first place in the conference. Pressure mounted in this important weekend for the team as they took on rivals for the title—PLU and University of Puget Sound. Whitworth took a lead over PLU in the first set and never let up. Solid blocks from sophomore Brenna Bruil, sophomore Haley Vick, and junior Nicole Leonard challenged PLU’s outside hitters, who hit a .000 hitting average. Vick and Leonard also made several early kills, leading to an initial six-point gap which PLU could not close. Leonard made two service aces halfway through the match which only added to the high level of energy circulating in Pirate territory. As the match point approached, PLU climbed back with a four-point streak, tipping the ball into the Pirate’s open center and capitalizing off of Pirate errors. Leonard finally finished off the set for the Pirates with a kill.

“All this week at practice we focused on blocking and it carried over hugely in the game tonight,” Bruil said.

Freshman Cassandra Mendoza started the second set off with two kills, and the Pirates quickly accumulated a three-point lead. PLU tied up the game at 10-10 after they targeted the Whitworth defense’s weak point with more tipping, while improving their blocking to counter Whitworth’s strong left-side hitting. Following a timeout, Whitworth regained the advantage in the match by concentrating a series of kills to the Lute’s left back. Bruil put down two subsequent kills after long rallies, giving the Pirates another win.

“We came back [after the tie] with the mentality that we really have nothing to lose. Ever since I’ve played here we’ve never beaten PLU, so we just went after it with that ‘nothing-to-lose mentality,’” junior Elizabeth Ginley said.

During the final match, PLU drove Whitworth to many long rallies in which their hitters aimed successfully at Whitworth’s open left front side. Whitworth struggled to keep up on the scoreboard as both teams exchanged digs and kills. PLU again relied heavily on tipping to earn points, but Whitworth finally pulled ahead after service aces from both Bruil and Ginley. Vick topped off the scoreboard with her 10th kill of the night and hit the highest individual hitting percent for the team—.412. Ginley led the Pirates in number of digs, making 18 overall.

“PLU really played to our past weakness of the shorter tip balls in the shallow part of the court,” Ginley said. “I think what we did better against them this game versus the last time we played them is we really [read] the hitters, and we were able to anticipate the shorter balls.”

On Saturday night, Whitworth went toe to toe with UPS. Coming into the game, both teams came into the match tied for second place in the conference alongside Pacific Lutheran. The Pirates suffered a loss in the first game due to repeated blocking errors. UPS’ solid hitting sent Pirate defense scrambling and the women couldn’t make many successful plays. UPS narrowly won 25-23.

“[After the first set] we were focusing on our errors and the point behind us. We had the conversation of looking forward and focusing on that next point because we play well when we’re enthusiastic, and I thought we did that,” Head Coach Kati Bodecker said.

UPS continued making kills on the Pirates’ open right back and center. Korshavn and freshman Karina Lees made much-needed offensive plays, tying up the game at 23 points. Lees made the most of her time off the bench, leading her team with 15 kills. Korshavn, Lees and Bruil made the final three kills which led to the Pirate’s close win at 26-24.

The Pirates managed to take an early five-point lead with stronger hitting after halftime. Outside hitters Korshavn and Leonard swung harder to get the ball past UPS’s wall of blockers and successfully targeted open spots in UPS’ right side. Junior setter Maddye Dinsmore dropped a strategic tip into UPS’ left side to maintain the Pirates’ three-point advantage and Leonard finished with a low kill.

In the final match, UPS fought back, putting up their best blockers to counter Vick’s, Lee’s and Leonard’s powerful attacks. Neither team could gain advantage until UPS hit three subsequent attack errors. Korshavn and Bruil blocked out UPS’ final attack to tie up the game at 23 points. Dinsmore then made her third service ace of the night to give the Pirates the advantage. A final attack error by UPS’ attackers gave the Pirates their third narrow win.

The Pirates play Whitman in Walla Walla, Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m.

 

Leah Dassler

Staff Writer

Football falls to fifth-ranked Linfield in McMinnville

The Whitworth Pirates were unable to stop the fifth-ranked and undefeated Linfield College Wildcats, losing 65-13. Whitworth struggled on the defensive end of the ball, giving up over 709 yards in total offense to Linfield. In mid-season Northwest Conference play, Linfield picked up their fifth win improving to 5-0 overall and leading the conference with a record of 3-0.

The Linfield defense established dominance early in the game, slowing down Whitworth’s normally fast-paced and productive offense. Linfield sacked Whitworth senior quarterback Bryan Peterson five times and forced two interceptions. The Pirates were held to a season-low 264 yards.

“We are constantly trying to improve ourselves each week. We try to win the battles against ourselves and learn from our mistakes and successes,” Peterson said. “On Saturday we lost the battle against ourselves and it showed in the game.”

Linfield took an early lead over the Pirates, 20-0, early in the second quarter. Whitworth finally placed a score on the board thanks to a 29-yard passing touchdown from Peterson to senior wide receiver Drew Clausen.

Before the first half was over, Linfield tacked on two more scores to bring the lead to 35-7.

Whitworth’s defense was unable to stop Linfield’s aerial attack led by sophomore quarterback Sam Riddle. Riddle threw for three touchdowns in the second half by spreading the ball out to three different receivers.

“I’ve been in the Division III level of coaching for a while now, and Linfield is definitely the best team top to bottom,” Head Coach Rod Sandberg said. “We learned a lot about the big picture aspect of our program. This game was a great motivating factor for next season.”

With three more games left in the regular season, The Pirates currently stand at fifth place in the Northwest Conference, but are still in the running for the second place spot.

Whitworth plays at home against University of Puget Sound this Saturday, Oct. 25, in the Pine Bowl at 1 p.m.

 

Joshua Omdal

Staff Writer

Cross country caps off Oregon trip against NWC foes

The cross country teams are approaching the conclusion of their season and each meet is starting to be more indicative of where they are talent-wise compared to other NWC teams. At the Lewis & Clark Invitational last Saturday, those results were true to form, Head Coach Toby Schwarz said.

The women finished first of 12 teams and the men finished eighth of 14 teams behind conference opponents Whitman and University of Puget Sound.

The women won the invitational for the second year in a row despite not having three of their top five runners to finish in scoring position. Of those three, the Pirates were missing senior Christina Williams due to a stress fracture in her pelvis. Williams won the meet as an individual last year.

Junior Kellyn Roiko finished third overall for the 6K course with a time of 22:47.6, followed closely by sophomore Kristen Schoenike in sixth place with a time of 23:22.9. Freshman Bailey Scott had one of the best races of her season after finishing 12th overall with a time of 23:34.8. Sophomore Kendall Chin and junior Katie McKay were within seconds of Scott, finishing in 23:36.1 and 23:37.3, respectfully.

“There are two 3K laps on this course, and so it’s especially hard to stay focused and make the choice to keep trying to move up on the second lap,” Schoenike said. “I think that was the biggest factor for me was just staying focused during the second lap.”

The women finished first despite sophomore Allie Wood finishing 10th on the team and junior captain Amanda Blankenship finishing in the 12th team spot.

On the men’s side, the team had uncharacteristic finishes from their top five scorers. Senior Taylor Steele crossed the line in 28th place for the Bucs in a time of 26:35.2 for the 8K course. Junior Colton Berry was next through the tape in 26:47.5 for 34th place, followed closely by senior Trent Dudley in 26:48.2 for 35th. Freshman Logan Veasy finished well with a 27:11.5, while junior Matt Ferris rounded out the men’s team scoring with a 27:21.8.

“I kind of got out slower, but Trent [Dudley], Chris  [MacMurray] and Taylor [Steele] were leading it for the guys up through the first mile,” junior Colton Berry said. “The race got out a little bit slow for the first mile, but our top guys came through at five [minutes] flat.”

“We’re pretty much the fourth-best team in the conference and we’ve kind of proved that over the last several meets,” Schwarz said.

The difference came with the finishes of junior Chris MacMurray who came through outside of the team scoring with a 27:28.4, and of freshman Grant Bingham who finished with 28:58.4.

“We just need those people to run what they’ve done earlier in the year and other people to do what they did today and we should be fine,” Schwarz said.

Both teams will take their customary break from competition and return for the NWC Championship meet in Salem, Oregon on Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. The women will be looking to take on defending conference champion Willamette, while the men will look to move up and improve on their fourth-place ranking in conference as they eye Whitman, UPS and the defending men’s champion, Willamette.

 

Connor Soudani

Sports Editor

Women split NWC games at Whitworth Soccer Field

The women’s soccer team split wins during their sixth and seventh Northwest Conference games this season, bringing their conference record to 2-5. Saturday’s game against Pacific Lutheran University resulted in a 3-0 loss, but with improved defense in Sunday’s game, the Pirates pulled off a victory against the University of Puget Sound. During a scoreless first half, Whitworth kept the ball mainly in PLU territory. PLU’s contentious offense fought back, outdoing the Pirates in goal attempts six to two. Freshman Katie Bischoff attempted Whitworth’s two shots on the goal, but both went wide. Junior goalkeeper Andrea Stump saved three out of six PLU shots. The remaining shots hit wide and high.

PLU’s aggressive offensive play following halftime ended in the penalty box before PLU could make a goal. Four minutes into the period, PLU took the ball up the right side of Whitworth territory, shooting the ball wide off the goal post but then scoring off of the rebound.

“PLU’s strategy was to kick [the ball] to their wide players and to overlap the outside backs to cross in the back side. We just weren’t tracking the back side,” Bischoff said.

PLU targeted Stump’s open left side for their first goal. Junior Tiara Pajimola, in response, dug in offensively with an ineffective high shot. PLU scored again in the 77th minute, with another left-side play. A foul on Whitworth resulted in a penalty kick and PLU’s third goal in the 84th minute. This is the only time this season another team has scored more than twice on the Pirates.

“We had an excellent first half today in terms of our possession and the opportunities we generated on the goal,” Head Coach Jael Hagerott said. “Today was not a bad game despite the score. Once you’re 1-0 behind, you have to take risks in order to score, and we ended up paying for it.”

On Sunday, Pajimola started the Pirates off with a goal on University of Puget Sound in the second minute. She continued the Pirate’s possession and offensive focus, stealing the ball from UPS defense and taking a high shot at the goal. Stump saved four shots in the first sixteen minutes. The Pirates scrambled for a successful defensive play to deflect a corner kick from UPS. UPS’ offense pushed possession in favor of the Loggers, who outshot the Pirates 15 to two in the first half.

Sophomore Hannah Langbehn led Whitworth defensively in the second half, thwarting five of PLU’s unsuccessful shots on the goal. UPS’ defense protected their goal equally as well as the Pirates, shutting down all of Pajimola’s and sophomore Megan McCart’s offensive movements.

“[Saturday] we took risks. I don’t think it was defense, I just think it was the way we were trying to score after we got down. [On Sunday], I’d say we were playing tougher and we didn’t let up like we did a couple of times yesterday,” Langbehn said.

The Pirates will play George Fox University in Oregon on Saturday at noon.

Leah Dassler

Staff Writer

Volleyball dominates in weekend matchup

Following their narrow win over Whitman last Wednesday, the Pirates dominated Pacific University volleyball last Saturday night. Whitworth’s strong offense and accurate blocking overtook the Pacific Boxers 3-0, bringing the women’s Northwest Conference record this season to 2-2. Hitting a much-improved percentage of .393 in the entire match, Whitworth’s offense took the lead in all three matches. Junior Nicole Leonard led the team with 13 kills, while freshman Cassandra Mendoza followed closely behind with 12 kills and the highest hitting percentage of the night—.706. These kills along with junior Shawna Korshavn’s seven kills and junior setter Maddye Dinsmore’s 37 assists delivered the solid offense that the Pirates needed to shut down Pacific. Pacific’s defense and .141 hitting average could not keep the score close.

“We were really focused on playing our game instead of worrying about what [Pacific University] was going to throw at us,” sophomore Haley Vick said.

The Pirate’s  offensive focus at practice this week paid off, pulling the team together for the win, Vick said.

Whitworth’s early six-point lead in the first set started off the team’s upward momentum. Although several attack errors on the Pirate side allowed the Boxers to tie the score 12-12, Mendoza, sophomore Brenna Bruil, and Leonard’s combined nine kills in the second half of the game regained the Pirate lead. Pacific’s game point attack error finished the set 25-19.

“We came in with the focus tonight that we wanted to find our rhythm offensively. We’re a team that when we play well offensively, everything else kind of comes together,” Head Coach Kati Bodecker said.

Pacific’s well-placed tips in the beginning of the second set initially challenged Whitworth’s defense, as the teams stayed within one point of each other for five points. Dinsmore, however, moved the Pirates ahead with a second-touch tip over Pacific’s blockers. Vick and Leonard then targeted Pacific’s left back defense, making two kills.

Lack of communication between Pacific’s players became obvious when they dropped a ball and made two net errors. Whitworth’s aggressive blocking as well as Mendoza’s and Korshavn’s hitting efforts left Pacific’s defense scrambling, and the Pirates proceeded to win 25-11.

“Our main key tonight was to play free and compete. I think we did that. When you all commit to the same thing and play selflessly, then it gets really easy to get excited about everyone’s awesome kills or their awesome digs,” Dinsmore said.

Dinsmore again tipped several balls over the Boxers’ blockers in the third game. This, along with two kills from Mendoza, pushed the Pirates three points ahead of the Boxers. The Boxers’ offense, although inconsistent at first when they hit several balls out, tied up the score 12-12, challenging the Pirate defense with kills over blockers’ reach. Mendoza’s solid kills eventually overcame Pacific’s blockers, and she finished the Pirate sweep with a kill to the left back.

The women will challenge the Willamette Bearcats in Salem, Ore. on Friday. They hope to approach the game with hard work in practice this week so they can beat Willamette, Bodecker said.

 

Leah Dassler

Staff Writer

Golf teams close out PLU Tourney with wins across the board

Whitworth golf made a strong drive onto the NWC golf scene last weekend with first place finishes from both the men’s and women’s teams. The Pirate women found themselves ahead of their PLU hosts by 11 shots with a team score of 318 following the first day of competition. Junior Chelsea Bayley held on to first place in the individual player standings after hitting a two over par score of 74. Sophomore Michal Schuster was close behind with a score of 76 to finish second in the player standings after the first day. Senior Nicole Lomax was tied for seventh with 81 while freshman Katie Ochoa shot an 87 with junior Yvonne LaCoursiere rounding the day out for Whitworth with an 88.

In addition to the success of the women after the first day, the junior-heavy Whitworth men held their own to secure a 295 team score. Junior Oliver Rudnicki held on to the lead with a three under score of 69, while junior Tyler McQuilken landed in fifth with 74. Tied for sixth was junior Samson Martinez with 75, followed by junior Austin Billeter and junior Andrew Dodge with 77 each.

“First tournament of the year, just wanted to see how everyone was playing,” Head Coach Warren Friedrichs said. “We’ve got new people in the lineup on a more regular basis depending on what they’ve seen in the past.”

Friedrichs went on to say that there was no specific point total they were aiming for as teams after the first day.

“You never know how the course is playing, [especially] because we haven’t played here in a long time so I didn’t remember the course. It was pretty dry in the rough area so the ball runs out,” Friedrichs said.

The second day proved to be almost a mirror image of the first as far as scores went. Both teams held on to their leads and went on to win the tournament.

Bayley shot another 74 to retain first place in the player standings, while Schuster tied for second with two golfers from Lewis & Clark. The rest of the women’s team improved upon their scores from the previous day, highlighted by Lomax coming back to hit a 75. In addition, Ochoa dropped six strokes from her first outing to finish the second day with 82, while LaCoursiere dropped two strokes to finish with 86.

“I was three under through 11, and then on 12 I hit a good drive and I had the ball below my feet for the second shot into the par 5 and I ended up hooking it out of bounds,” Bayley said. “That was probably the most difficult shot I had all day.”

Despite her strong driving on the first day, Bayley turned to a different part of her game to secure her second 74.

“I definitely putted well today. I hit the ball well yesterday but I hit some putts today to keep the scores the same,” Bayley said.

Much like the women, the men’s team continued their sharp shooting on the second day with another team score under 300 as they secured the team victory. The Pirates edged out George Fox and Puget Sound despite low team scores from both squads on the second outing. Rudnicki clinched the individual player victory with a second 69, while Martinez came back to hit a 74 to end up tied for sixth. Billeter shot 76, McQuilken shot 80 and Dodge pulled out an 82 to give the Pirates a score of 299 for the second outing.

“For me, as opposed to the other tournaments these past two weeks, it was my putting. I was hitting quite a few putts that I haven’t really made in other tournaments,” Rudnicki said.

Rudnicki also said that there was a fair amount of planning for the approach to each hole.

“We talked about what kind of shots we wanted to hit off the tees on certain holes and not be too aggressive, but the course wasn’t a really difficult course,” Rudnicki said. “The fairways were pretty hard so there was plenty of holes you could Birdie, so you just kind of needed to get past the tough holes to give yourself an opportunity to score on the easiest holes.”

Both golf teams travel to Oregon this weekend to compete in the Pacific University Invite on Saturday and Sunday.

 

Connor Soudani

Sports Editor

Men's soccer continues winning streak in Oregon

Three first half goals proved to be enough as the Whitworth Pirates edged the UCSC Banana Slugs 3-2 to secure their fifth consecutive win following an exhibition game against Trinity Western last month. Despite allowing a 14-6 advantage to the Slugs in shots, including a 9-1 advantage in shots for the second half, the Pirate defense held and they finished off non-conference play undefeated. Senior Eduardo Lopez and senior Micheal Ramos made an impact on the game early with a Ramos assist to Lopez for a header into the net. The goal marked the first of his Whitworth career for Lopez, who transferred from Cal State Stanislaus after last year.

“It was very good. It was a good experience and I’m happy that I was finally able to net,” Lopez said in regard to his first goal.

From there, the Pirates continued their offensive tempo, increasing the gap even more less than 20 minutes later. Senior Colin Shockman knocked in a long ball from outside the box off of an assist from junior Samual Jarrett to bring the lead to two. However, not 25 seconds later did Ramos return to the goal area to put one in off an assist from freshman Kyle Cacoyannis.

“Mainly, we work very well as a unit and for me to be able to attack more than I defend allows me to get in spaces where I can not only create but also score goals,” Ramos said.

However, Head Coach Morgan Cathey thinks that the team’s production in the first half is something that they can improve on even more.

“Today we scored three in the first half,” Cathey said. “I think we could have scored another three in the second half if we were really clinical, but we have some amazing attacking players and we should be creating some more clear cut opportunities.”

The opportunities dwindled for the Pirates in the second half, but ultimately, they played through and finished with the one goal advantage.

“We are getting much closer to seeing how well we can play when we’re excellent on the field in every aspect,” Cathey said. “I think in the first half especially we saw how dangerous we can be when we’re in the game from the start and when we bring everything we can.”

The men’s soccer team now looks towards conference play and the challenges that await, but Cathey thinks they are ready.

“For us it’s learning from the non-conference games which we have done a lot,” Cathey said. “We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and we know now that step one is behind us and step two for us really is our conference schedule which is within our control to win and go to the NCAA tournament.”

The Pirates take on the Linfield Wildcats this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in the Pine Bowl.

 

Connor Soudani

Sports Editor

Women's Soccer avoids shutout in NWC loss

This weekend’s game proved to be a struggle for the women’s soccer team as they faced off against the Whitman Missionaries for their first official Northwest Conference game of the season. After splitting a set of games in Texas last week, the Pirates lost to the Missionaries, 1-2, bringing their record to 1-3-1 overall. The Pirates focused on a highly defensive strategy; however, junior goalkeeper Andrea Stump ended up saving the net three times in the first 40 minutes.

“We know how Whitman plays, so our strategy was to recognize which areas they’re weak in and exploit those areas while at the same time trying to defend against what they’re good at. We tried to fight back the whole game. I think our resilience was really our strong point,” Stump said.

The Pirates continued defending shots and increased their offensive tempo, with junior Tiara Pajimola taking two unsuccessful wide shots at Whitman’s goalkeeper, Haley Case. The first period ended with no goals for either side.

“Coming out stronger in the first half and having energy last through the duration of the game are some areas we are working on as a team,” Pajimola said. “But overall our focus today was hitting clean shots, which I think we did better than games in the past.”

Two Whitman goals early in the second half put the Pirates in a tough spot.

“I think the defense did well even though [Whitman] scored twice,” sophomore forward Megan McCart said. “Overall, it was a good team effort.”

McCart succeeded in targeting Whitman’s forward Kelsey Peck and shutting down her attempts to distribute the ball across the field.

To avoid the shutout, the Pirates aggressively took the ball down the field, earning three more fouls as a result of a last push by the offense. No more shots were made until the final minute of the game, in which McCart scored her first goal this season with a free kick, avoiding a complete shutout by Whitman.

“Maybe a different team would say ‘2-0 down. We’re not going to play anymore.’ But we fought back with the goal down to the last minute. I think if we continue that we’ll only get stronger and stronger,” Head Coach Jael Haggerott said.

The team is hoping to adapt players to different roles so they can improve upon their fifth place finish in conference play last season, McCart said. The women play at home this Saturday in another NWC game against Lewis & Clark.

 

Leah Dassler

Staff Writer