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PLU to Play Four Matches at Colorado Classic

Samantha North (16) and Bethany Huston (18)
Samantha North (16) and Bethany Huston (18)

THIS WEEK: Fresh off a solid season-opening performance at the Puget Sound Premier Tournament, the Pacific Lutheran volleyball team travels to Colorado Springs, Colo., to play four games at the Colorado College Classic. The Lutes face Wheaton (Ill.) and Texas Lutheran on Friday and then play Texas-Dallas and host Colorado College on Saturday.

ABOUT THE OPPONENTS: Of PLU's four Colorado tournament opponents, only host Colorado College, at No. 15, is ranked in the AVCA Division III Top 25 Poll. The Tigers enter their own tournament with a 3-1 record at the Pacific Coast Classic played in La Verne and Claremont, Calif. Colorado College started its season with a 25-15, 25-12, 25-10 loss to Cal Lutheran, which is ranked No. 6 in this week's AVCA poll. After that defeat, Colorado College picked up victories over La Verne, Whittier and Pomona-Pitzer. The Tigers are led by senior defensive specialist Laura Goldsmith, who is now the school's career leader with 1,737 career digs. PLU has faced Colorado College only one time, that in 2006, when the Lutes lost a 3-1 decision to the Tigers in Colorado Springs. Texas-Dallas is also 3-1 entering the tournament, while Texas Lutheran is 1-3 and Wheaton 1-4.

NATIONAL RANKING: Pacific Lutheran has moved up five spots to No. 20 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Top 25 Poll. The Lutes, 3-1 for the season, received 102 total points, which ironically is fewer votes than they received (116) in the AVCA preseason poll that ranked them 25th. To view the AVCA Division III poll, click here.

LUTES GO 3-1 AT PUGET SOUND PREMIER: Pacific Lutheran opened its season last weekend with three wins and one defeat at the Puget Sound Premier Tournament hosted by the University of Puget Sound. PLU opened things Friday with victories over St. Olaf and nationally ranked Southwestern (Texas). On Saturday, they swept aside UC Santa Cruz before dropping a 3-1 decision to UPS. Sophomore setter Samantha North and junior middle blocker Bethany Huston earned all-tournament honors.

Pacific Lutheran def. St. Olaf 25-23, 25-22, 25-21: Becca Holtgeerts, a junior middle blocker, had nine kills with no errors on 19 attempts for a .474 attack percentage to lead PLU. North finished with 26 assists, Huston had five block assists, and senior libero Blair Bjorkman collected 17 digs. St. Olaf hit just .008 against a PLU team that recorded one block solo and 12 block assists.

PLU def. Southwestern 21-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-18, 15-9: After a slow start against Southwestern, the Lutes attacked with authority in the final three sets. They had 19 kills and a .280 attack percentage in the 25-19 third set victory, and they hit an amazing .405 in the fourth set with 17 kills and just two errors in 37 attempts. The fifth-and-deciding set was nearly as good as PLU finished with a .300 percentage on 12 kills and three errors on 30 attempts. For the match, PLU finished with a .243 attack rate compared to .192 for Southwestern. Huston led the way with 18 kills and a .406 attack percentage, while Haley Urdahl had 16 kills, followed by Allison Wood and Amy Wooten with 11 apiece. North and Chelsea Nelson both were flawless on offense, North finishing with nine kills and no errors and Nelson ending the game with seven kills and no errors. Both players hit over .400 in the match. North added 59 assists, Huston had eight block assists and Nelson finished with five additional block assists as the Lutes ended the game with 11 team blocks compared to seven for Southwestern. The back row defense was stellar as the Lutes finished with 109 total digs led by Bjorkman with 36, Amber Aguiar with 23, North with 20 and Wood with 15.

PLU def. UCSC 25-22, 25-23, 25-22: The Lutes had to rally from a deficit in all three sets. Both teams played excellent offense in the first set as the Lutes hit .300 and the Banana Slugs .243, but after that both teams struggled to get their offenses in gear. Pacific Lutheran finished with a .073 team attack percentage comared to .062 for UCSC. Allison Wood led the Lutes with 11 kills and she also contributed 10 digs, one solo block and one block assist. Haley Urdahl had eight kills and 10 digs, Samantha North contributed 25 assists and 10 digs, Bethany Huston had five block assists and Blair Bjorkman added 22 digs and four service aces.

Puget Sound def. PLU 21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-18: The Lutes jumped out to a 1-0 lead behind the play of Huston, who had five kills in seven attack attempts. With the score tied at 7-7, Huston put away a kill, and PLU never again trailed. Puget Sound pulled within a point on three occasions, the latest at 22-21, but the Lutes closed with the final four points to secure the first set. PLU seemed the have the second set in hand, racing to an 18-10 lead before the Loggers took the momentum away by scoring 10 of the next 11 points to gain a 20-19 lead, their first of the set. The Lutes contributed to the Puget Sound rally, however, with five attack errors. The third set again showed PLU gaining the early lead. Puget Sound tied it on a couple of occasions, but the Lutes took a 19-16 advantage before the Loggers closed it out by scoring nine of the final 11 points. In the final set, the Lutes led 6-3 early but couldn't stay with the Loggers the rest of the way. Huston led the Lutes with 11 kills, one solo block and three block assists, followed by Wood and Urdahl with 10 kills apiece. North had 37 assists and 19 digs, while Bjorkman contributed 20 digs and Urdahl and Wood 17 and 15 digs, respectively.

- PLU -