Men's tennis ends 2015 season with UPS and PLU victories

The men’s tennis team ended the season by shutting out both the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University at home last weekend. Whitworth swept Puget Sound 9-0 Saturday, in what turned into a one-sided victory outside at the Scotford Tennis Center.

“For both doubles and singles we had a rough season not getting into the top four of conference,” junior Drew Brigham said. “So today we had a desire to prove that we are better than our No. 5 ranking.”

Brigham started off the day with an 8-1 win in his doubles match partnered with senior Matt Goebel, and then dominated his singles match, winning both sets, 6-1. The Bucs swept through their matches with ease, winning all three of their doubles matches and not dropping a single set in any of their six singles matches.

The Bucs were knocked out of the playoffs with their loss to Pacific University last week, so the competition last weekend had no bearing on their playoff hopes. The win bumped Whitworth up to 5-6 in the Northwest Conference, and dropped Puget Sound’s Conference record to 0-12.

Sophomore Shane Sandlin also had a dominant performance, winning his doubles match with junior Drew Adams, 8-2, and his singles match in two quick sets.

“In doubles, my first serve percentage was important, while in singles, I focused on hitting to my opponent’s backhand, since he had a very powerful forehand,” Sandlin said. “I think my consistency has gotten better throughout the season as I have been focusing on not going too big when I don’t need to.”

Whitworth blew out PLU, 9-0, in their final match of the season with Senior Day on Sunday at the Scotford Tennis Center.

“In doubles, Drew and I were really aggressive and attacked the net well, while in singles I focused on hitting it to my opponent’s backhand, attacking and hitting winners,” Goebel said. “It’s going to be different leaving Whitworth. I’ve made a lot of good friends and had a lot of great experiences, but I’m looking forward to the next big adventure to see where life takes me.”

The Bucs started the day with three quick doubles win, as Goebel won his match partnered with Brigham, 8-1, while junior Blake Miller and sophomore Caleb Hughes won their doubles match, 8-2. The Bucs then swept PLU, 6-0, in singles- every single match won in straight sets except for Brigham’s win in a tiebreak.

Adams won his singles match, 6-0, in both sets, while Goebel, Hughes, and Miller also had fairly comfortable matches. Sandlin also continued his run of success with a convincing win in straight sets.

Goebel was not the only senior to finish his Whitworth career today, as fellow senior Chris Engelmann cheered on his teammates on the sideline, while continuing to recover from a knee injury.

“These are two seniors that for the rest of our lives I can easily call friends,” Coach Shanks said. “They weren’t just players. They will leave an indelible mark on the fabric of this team for years to come.”

 

Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

 

Women's tennis ends regular season with a bang, preps for Whitman

The women’s tennis team won both of their matches last weekend for their final two regular season conference games against the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University. Whitworth blew out Puget Sound 9-0 Saturday, clinching a No. 4 Northwest Conference playoff spot in the process.

“I feel good about my game personally, and feel confident in the team as well going into next week’s conference playoffs,” senior Saryn Mooney said. “These are two solid games this weekend and are important preparation for us next week.”

Mooney won her doubles match partnered with sophomore Bella Hoyos, 8-2, and won her singles match in two quick sets starting at the number three spot. Due to injury, Puget Sound only had 5 active starters, so there were only two doubles matches and five singles matches, but the Bucs won them all in convincing fashion.

Whitworth started of the day with two dominant doubles wins, and then finished it off by not dropping a set in all five of their singles matches. Junior Taylor Peña and sophomore Anabelle Burns did not drop a game in their respective singles matches, while Hoyos started at the No. 1 spot and had a convincing win.

On Sunday, the Bucs won their final regular season match of the season, 5-4, against PLU in Parkland, Washington.

“It was rewarding to play with Morgan, another senior, in doubles today,” senior Caylee Lamm said. “I think we were consistent and played our game, as we had to be the aggressor for the most part of it, but once we figured that out, it worked pretty well.”

Whitworth started off the day winning two out of their three doubles matches, and then tied their singles matches, 3-3. Lamm won her doubles match partnered with fellow senior, Morgan McDivitt, 8-4, while Mooney and Hoyos had a dominant 8-1 win in their doubles match. In singles, Mooney and Burns both won their respective matches fairly easily in straight sets, while McDivitt had a thrilling 8-6 win in the third set.

The Bucs will enter the NWC Tournament on Friday against undefeated and regular-season conference champions: Whitman. Whitworth is in a must-win situation in order to continue their season with hopes of making the NCAA Tournament.

“If we are going to beat Whitman we are going to have to come out with more intensity and energy than we did today, and just have confidence with our game,” McDivitt said. “In doubles, the key was keeping the ball cross-court, and then Caylee did a good job with poaching at the net and attacking the right short ball. In singles I played well also so hopefully I can take this confidence into the next match at Whitman.”

Lamm is also not ready for her tennis career at Whitworth to be over, and says that for Whitworth to beat Whitman in the rivalry, “having a positive attitude and playing to our strengths will be key.”

  Kyle Cacoyannis

Staff Writer

Softball continues series win streak

The softball team played four games against Pacific Lutheran University, with two on Saturday and two more on Sunday, and winning the first 3-0 and the second 9-1. Whitworth followed these games the next day with a 4-3 win and a 5-2 loss. In spite of ending on defeat, Whitworth won the series against Pacific Lutheran overall, continuing their streak of winning every series thus far. Sophomore Catcher Kayla Batastini credits the streak to practice ethic. “We work really hard at practice all during the week, do exactly what we’re taught, and then come out and do our job,” Batastini said.

The first game of the weekend kicked off with a shutout. The Bucs began the game with a couple of runs within the first inning. Senior OF Peyton McMahon landed the first run by sending sophomore UT Shannon Wessel to home plate, and shortly completed a run of her own due to sophomore IF Tessa Matthews landing a hit.

The following inning yielded no change of score, but in the third, Whitworth added another run to the board with Matthews hitting a pop fly that resulted in sophomore Wessel landing another run. The team then managed to successfully prevent any points scored against them for the the remainder of the game.

The second game opened with the Bucs sacrificing a run early on and not scoring any in return for the vast majority of the match. However, in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Pirates managed to score nine consecutive runs, which in turn resulted in the game ending in that inning.

The second day of games opened with another Whitworth win. Wessel landed a hit in the fourth inning that resulted in a home run while two other players were on base. After adding three runs to the board, the Bucs were able to pass PLU’s two-run lead. While PLU managed to tie things up in the fifth inning, another home run by Matthews resulted in Whitworth winning the match.

“The best thing to do is to just keep pushing for more runs,” Wessel said about coming back from being behind in a game.

The weekend ended with the Bucs losing the final game of the series against PLU. After earning two runs during the second inning, PLU would go on to stay ahead for the rest of the game, in spite of sophomore IF Kelsey Stroshine and Kayla Batastini landing hits that resulted in a couple of Whitworth runs.

The final score of the game came down to a 5-2 Whitworth loss. However, Whitworth remains undefeated in series wins, a fact that Matthews credits to the team dynamic.

“When people need to get hits, they get on that and do their jobs, and we have really good pitchers and defense,” Matthews said.

Next weekend, the Bucs will go up against Pacific for another four games at home.

 

Will Carsh

Staff Writer

Women's basketball drops to No. 3

Last weekend ended with the women’s basketball team achieving a crushing victory over the Pacific Lutheran University Lutes, 75-52 and suffering a defeat from the Puget Sound University Loggers, 82-78. The Friday night game against PLU started off with the Pirates gaining six points in the first two minutes. The Lutes were able to pick up two free throws but only at the expense of the Pirates scoring another six points.  By the first timeout at 14:03, the score was 12-2. Whitworth’s lead would not drop below 10 points for the rest of the game.

The Lutes had trouble handling the ball throughout the entire first half. They were unable to shoot or pass effectively, and ended up committing 19 turnovers by the end of the game.

Whitworth’s offense in the first half was led by junior guard KC McConnell with 14 points.

“Our offensive strategy was to move the ball around and to get as many hands on the ball as possible. When we got our defense moving, it seemed to work for our offense,” senior forward Lexie Zappone said.

The first half ended with the score at 38-12, but the Lutes buckled down on their accuracy and scored 40 points in the second half. Senior forward Jessica Kramer helped the Pirate offense by shooting back-to-back baskets from the field before retiring from the game after her fourth personal foul.

“Our defense is what definitely got us going. We tried to make them take shots that they’re not comfortable with,” coach Helen Higgs said.

The Pirates were able to score 37 points in the second half and ended the game with a score of 75-52.

The Saturday night game against the Loggers began on a high note for the Pirates.  McConnell and senior guard Kendra Knutsen were able give the Pirates a four-point lead less than five minutes in. By the first timeout at 10:53, Whitworth held the lead at 15-11.

However, once the Loggers scored seven points and took the lead at 7:39, it was a fight for the lead for the rest of the half. The first half ended with the Loggers in the lead, 36-30.

“The combination of their balance and actually hitting their shots was hard for us to defend,” junior reserve Faith Emerson said.

The Pirates struggled to keep up with Puget Sound in the second half, trailing by as many as 14 points at 8:17. Knutsen was able to bring the heat on offense and score 19 points in the second half. A narrow victory seemed within the Pirates’ grasp after senior forward Katara Belton-Sharp drained a 3-pointer, narrowing the gap to only five points with 21 seconds left on the clock.

“We wanted to use a quick trap to see if they’d turn it over. If they got through that then we’d just foul them so they’d have to come down and shoot free-throws and we would gain possession and score,” Kramer said.

The Pirates were unable to win or tie the game after giving the Loggers three points in free throws.

Whitworth lost their No. 2 seed in the NWC and finished the weekend with a record of 12-4 in the conference. The Pirates will face the Loggers again on Feb. 26 for the NWC Tournament Semifinals.

 

Peter Houston-Hencken

Staff Writer

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

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 falls short in match ups with PLU and UPS

This weekend, Whitworth Volleyball broke their seven-game winning streak in their first two Northwest Conference games of the season, bringing their overall record to 7-4. They narrowly lost to Pacific Lutheran University in a fifth set Friday night and pushed Puget Sound University to a fourth set on Saturday. The Pirates started off strong in the first set, leading until the 18th point when PLU pulled ahead 19-18.

Whitworth kept up with the Lutes until the 20th point in which PLU put down four subsequent kills. Freshman Cassy Mendoza earned one more point for the Pirates with a kill from the outside left side. The Lutes, however, finished off the first set with another kill.

PLU gained a four-point lead right from the start of the second set due to three attack errors by Whitworth and a kill by PLU.  Whitworth trailed behind PLU, but narrowed a six-point gap to 11-9 with a series of successful outside attacks from sophomore Haley Vick. The rebound did not last long though, as PLU quickly racked up 12 more points from eight kills as well as Pirate service and blocking errors.

“We didn’t get the same touches as we were able to get early on in the season. Our defense was running around and not playing in control,” Head Coach Kati Bodecker said. “We need to break it down, get in more reps at practice, and bring it back to the basics which made us successful [defensively] in the first place.”

The third set was the turning point for Whitworth. Their hitting percentage improved from 0.06 in the second set to 0.25 in the third set. Two kills each from Vick and junior Nicole Leonard contributed to a 7-1 run in which the Bucs took the lead. Adding to their comeback, junior Maddye Dinsmore assisted Leonard in making six of her 15 kills of the night.

“We were down 2-0 and we had to come back. I’d say that third match was a really high point for our team to come together and get that win,” Dinsmore said. “We are fighters and we’re not going down without a fight.”

Taking advantage of Buc attack errors, the Lutes closed in 17-21 but the Bucs won with a final kill from Mendoza.

“We needed to change our serving. We weren’t serving tough enough. We also changed our passing, mentality, and attitude to become one unit,” Dinsmore said.

Picking up momentum, the Bucs held off PLU during the fourth set. Focusing on defensive strategies again to counter the Lutes’ 22 attacks, the Bucs took a 14-9 lead only to let the Lutes come close at 15-16. Sophomore Brenna Bruil’s ninth kill of the night tied the match 2-2, setting the teams up for a close tiebreaker.

“We came out in the third, fourth and fifth game ready to compete. Now we know we can compete with one of the best teams in the league,” Bruil said.

Whitworth initially took a two-point lead but attack and service errors allowed the Lutes to gain a three-point lead, bringing the score to 10-7. Responding to PLU’s aggressive approach, the Pirates dug in defensively, running several long rallies with Dinsmore’s 30th dig of the night. Both teams made 12 attacks each, but PLU came out stronger with one more successful kill than the Bucs. The Pirates consistently fought but could not overcome PLU’s seven-point run after the changeover, losing 12-15.

“I’d say our main strength was our defense and determination. In the first two games we struggled to come together as a team. We want to be a unified team and a good defensive team, really focusing on working hard with every ball and playing together,” Dinsmore said.

On Saturday night, the Bucs lost again, this time to Puget Sound. Although these games were closer than games the night before, the Pirates’ 59 kills couldn’t overcome UPS’s .244 hitting percentage. In the first set, UPS took advantage of several Pirate attack errors, moving ahead in a nine-point run and eventually winning 25-17. The Pirates came back in the second set with their best set hitting average of the night- .227.

Although Dinsmore made a service ace in the first minutes of play, the third set went to the Loggers 25-19 after a series of successful attacks. The Loggers finished the fourth set 25-23, shutting out any possibility of a Pirate comeback. Bruil made six of her 17 kills in this set, Mendoza put down 15 kills for the night and Leonard finished with 10 kills.

“We believe that playing together as a team is the best way to play and our success will come from doing the little things,” Bruil said.

The Pirates play Whitman at home tonight, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m.

“We’ve faced Whitman already in a tournament and they’re a great match-up...Our expectations for this Wednesday, if we can put together two solid practices Monday and Tuesday, are to play well and win,” Bodecker said.

 

Leah Dassler

Staff Writer