The Volleyball team held its first place 10-3 overall standing by taking two victories last week against the Whitman Missionaries and the George Fox Bruins. The Pirates beat the Missionaries last Wednesday with a set score of 3-1, and achieved a narrow victory against the Bruins on Saturday 27.
The Pirates began their Wednesday night game with a solid lead by winning the first set with ease.
The Whitman Missionaries simply could not keep up with the Pirates’ fast plays and cohesive teamwork. Minutes into the game, the Pirates had already taken the lead and would hold it for the rest of the set.
The Pirates’ lead continued to grow throughout the set and reached a peak of seven points when the score was 25- 18 at the end of the set.
The second set mirrored the first with Whitworth coming out strong. The Missionaries found themselves repeating their same mistakes and coming out with an even worse score of 25-17.
Though Whitworth seemed destined to win Wednesday’s match, the Pirates were unable to carry their momentum over to the third set to end the game. The Missionaries came out strong in the third set and took an early lead. The dynamic of the game had changed once Whitman held the lead at 7-2.
“Their block did a much better job,” Pirates head coach Kati Bodecker said. “They were making us work a little bit harder for our kills in that third set.”
The Pirates were unable to pick up the slack and stayed behind Whitman with a consistent margin. The set ended with a Missionary victory and a score of 25-19.
The fourth set of the match was close for its duration. The Pirates took the first point, but neither team was able to gain a solid lead. The Pirates and Missionaries stayed neck and neck until the score reached 12- 12.
“We knew that we needed to swing more aggressively and not let their block get in our way,” Bodecker said.
The Pirates were able to take the lead and managed a score of 18-14. Sophomore Cassandra Mendoza led the offensive with 18 kills and an attack percentage of 26 percent.
The Pirates were able to end the match with a score of 25-20 and a set score of 3-1.
Even though Saturday’s game ended with a better set score for the Pirates, the Bruins proved themselves to be a more challenging opponent.
“George Fox had a lot of intensity,” senior Nicole Leonard said. “Whitman has a few key hitters, and that’s what got us in trouble, but George Fox played all around as a team better than Whitman.”
Leonard led the Pirates in the first set by making the Pirates’ first kill of the game and getting an attack percentage of 34 percent.
The Pirates had a rough start, but once the gap was closed at 4-4, Whitworth took the lead and held it until the end of the set. The Pirates ended the first set with a solid score of 25-18.
The Bruins found an unexpected energy for the second set and jumped ahead to a score of 10-5. The Pirates were able to tie the score at 12- 12 but stayed neck and neck with the Bruins until the end of the set.
When the score reached 26-26, Mendoza and junior Haley Vick made kills to end the set with a score of 28-26.
“We were all working so hard,” Mendoza said. “You have to be gutsy, there at the end.”
The most intense set of the week came at the end of Saturday’s game. Neither team could get more than a three point lead and the teams remained evenly matched the entire set. Both teams exhibited talent with blocking and digging in the third set.
“Even through our struggles, our team does a really good job of maintaining our confidence,” Bodecker said. “They really picked up their intensity at the end.”
With each team constantly winning and losing the lead, the crowd was noticeably agitated. Both teams seemed tired when the score reached 31-31. Luckily, Leonard was able to make two successful kills and end the game at 33- 31.
Whitworth hold first place in the Northwest Conference with a record of 4-0. Even though Whitman is eighth and George Fox is sixth in the Conference, the Pirates did not let themselves get too comfortable.
“I feel like since we’re first in conference, we get the best of every team,” Leonard said. “They’re not coming here thinking they’re going to lose, they’re going to come play the best team.”
The Pirates will travel to Oregon this weekend and face off against Pacific University on Friday at 7 p.m. and Linfield University on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Contact Peter Houston-Hencken at