WALLA WALLA - Whitman rallied from a two-set deficit to hand Pacific Lutheran its first Northwest Conference volleyball loss of the season by a 30-32, 20-25, 25-23, 25-15, 15-12 score at Sherwood Center.
The Lutes, 15-3 overall and 9-1 in the conference, saw their nine-match winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Missionaries, who are now 6-11 overall and 4-6 in the conference. Pacific Lutheran, ranked No. 14 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Top 25 national poll, maintains its two-game lead in the conference standings because both Puget Sound (ranked ahead of PLU at No. 13) and Pacific also lost their Saturday evening matches.
Pacific Lutheran has six conference matches remaining and five of them are at home, starting with contests next Friday and Saturday against Linfield and Lewis & Clark, respectively.
The Lutes were within a couple points of beating the Missionaries in three sets, but it was the home team that made the decisive plays at the end of the third set. PLU, feeling the effects of consecutive five-set matches on top of the long cross-state ride to Spokane and a three-hour trek to Walla Walla, could not keep up with Whitman in the final two sets.
PLU fell behind 5-0 in the third set and still trailed 14-9 when it started a rally, eventually taking a 22-21 lead on a kill by Haley Urdahl. With the score tied at 23-23, Rachel Cline and Olivia Nielson recorded consecutive kills to give the Missionaries the win.
Whitman took that momentum into a convincing fourth set win in which it hit .400 to just .065 for the Lutes, and then built a lead it never lost in taking the decisive fifth set.
Jillian Davis had a huge match for the Missionaries with 24 kills, 19 digs and three service aces, while Nelson added 16 kills, a .517 attack percentage and seven block assists for the winners. Whitman finished with 10 team blocks to eight for the Lutes.
- PLU -