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Lutes Rally, Remain Unbeaten in NWC Volleyball

Lutes Rally, Remain Unbeaten in NWC Volleyball

PORTLAND, Ore. - Trailing in a Northwest Conference match for the first time this season, Pacific Lutheran came back to defeat Lewis & Clark, 17-25, 25-10, 25-16, 25-18, on Saturday night at Pamplin Sports Complex.

The Lutes, ranked 19th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Top 25, improved its record to 10-2 overall and 4-0 in the conference. Lewis & Clark is now 4-9 for the season and 0-4 in the NWC.

Despite coming into the match without a conference victory, the Pioneers seemed undaunted at the task of facing a nationally ranked opponent. They had 16 kills and just three errors while hitting .371 in the first set victory. PLU, meanwhile, had just nine kills and a .125 percentage in the set.

The Pioneers scored the set's first four points, with Kateleya Milan providing a pair of kills, and they eventually built an 8-1 advantage on Jennifer Dowdy's kill. The Lutes never got closer than five points the rest of the way.

In three previous NWC wins the Lutes had lost only one set, and falling behind 1-0 in this one seemed to provide a wake up call. They built a double-digit lead at 14-4 and added on from there. As good as the L&C attack was in the first set, it struggled in the second set with a -.184 percentage., including 10 attack errors. The Lutes, meanwhile, hit .229 with 13 kills, including four by Allison Wood.

PLU got it going quickly in the third set, using kills by Bethany Huston and Haley Urdahl and a Kacey Hartman ace to build a 3-0 lead. Consecutive L&C kills made it 3-2, but the Lutes pulled away and built a 12-6 lead to force a timeout by the home team. The Pioneers pulled within three at 14-11, but Wood served four straight points, with two aces, to help put PLU on top 24-14 on the way to the set victory.

The final set went back-and-forth until the Lutes went on a small run to take an 18-14 advantage, and the Pioneers didn't get closer than two points after that.

Pacific Lutheran spread 45 kills among eight different players, including a team-high 10 from Urdahl and nine more from Wood. The Lutes had 11 team blocks, led by Huston and Amy Wooten with five assists apiece. Samantha North had 32 assists, 11 digs, one solo block and three block assists, and Blair Bjorkman led all players with 21 digs.

Next weekend, the Lutes return to Oregon for conference matches on Friday against Pacific and Saturday against Willamette.

- PLU -