Lutes Rally From 2-0 Deficit to Beat Loggers
In the toughest challenge yet to their unbeaten Northwest Conference record, the Pacific Lutheran Lutes rallied from a two-set deficit to defeat the visiting Puget Sound Loggers, 3-2, in a conference match played Wednesday night in Olson Auditorium.
After Puget Sound won the first two sets by identical 25-22 scores, the Lutes rallied to win the final three, 25-14, 25-22, 15-13. With their 11th straight victory, the nation's No. 15-ranked Division III team improved its overall record to 15-5 and its perfect conference mark to 11-0. Puget Sound, ranked No. 21 in the AVCA Division III national poll, is now 13-6 overall and 7-4 in the conference.
The Loggers built four-point leads on several occasions in the first set, and leading 20-19 broke away from the Lutes with a 3-0 run started by a kill from Kalli Kamphaus. PLU pulled to within 24-22, but an ensuing attack error put the set in the Loggers' column.
Puget Sound hitter Juliette Witous was the story in the first two sets, recording seven kills and no errors on 10 attempts. With the visitors holding a tenuous 23-22 lead in the second set, Witous recorded the final of her four kills in the set, followed by a PLU error, and the Loggers led 2-0.
Neither team got their offense untracked in the first set, the Loggers hitting .103 and the Lutes coming in at .095. That changed dramatically in the second set for UPS, which notched 12 kills on the way to a .281 percentage. The Lutes, meanwhile, improved to .121, but hardly good enough to take the momentum away from the fired-up Loggers.
At that point, the Lutes faced their first 2-0 deficit since a 3-0 loss to No. 4-ranked Ohio Northern back on Sept. 12. The adversity seemed to awaken them over the remainder of the match.
They blitzed out to an early 6-1 lead in the third set, opened it up to a 12-3 margin, and then took a 17-5 lead before cruising in for the win. After struggling offensively in the first two sets, the Lutes hit an amazing .500 with 14 kills and no errors on 28 attempts.
The fourth set was close throughout with six ties and two lead changes. Trailing 7-5, the Lutes rallied to take a 9-8 lead, an advantage that they never did lose, though the Loggers did come back to tie it at 18-18. Kelcy Joynt's kill ended the set, making it 2-2 and bringing about a fifth set.
Back on Sept. 5, Puget Sound rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Lutes in five sets, and this time turnabout was fair play for the home side. Though the Loggers jumped ahead 6-2, highlighted by a Witous ace and kills from Kamphaus, Brynn Blickenstaff and Bre Boyce, the Lutes had an answer and took a 9-8 lead on Kelsie Moore's kill. Joynt eventually finished the match with a kill.
After a slow start in which she had five kills and a .000 attack percentage through the first two sets, Joynt came back to lead PLU with 19 kills in addition to hitting .250 for the match. Beth Hanna had 16 kills and Moore ended up with 14 kills and just one error while hitting .295. Erin Bremond added 10 kills as the Lutes put four players in double figures in that category. PLU ended up hitting .209 during the match. Sarah Beaver finished with 57 assists, Brenna Archibald had 17 digs and Blair Bjorkman added 16, and Bremond had one solo block and three block assists.
For the Loggers, Blickenstaff led the way with 13 kills and a .225 attack percentage while also adding four aces and three solo blocks. Witous contributed 12 kills and Kamphaus added 10 more to the UPS total. Stephanie Harvey ended the match with 46 assists and Leigh Sumida was all over the back row with 31 digs. The Loggers hit. 167 for the match.
PLU returns to conference action at 7 p.m. Saturday when it hosts the Linfield Wildcats. Puget Sound's next match comes on Friday when it hosts Willamette.
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