SPOKANE, Wash. – Lauren Budde powered 13 kills without an error to lead Whitworth to a 25-16, 25-20, 25-18 win over visiting Linfield in a Northwest Conference volleyball match on Saturday night at the Whitworth Fieldhouse.
Budde hit .619 as the Pirates won their seventh straight match to improve to 10-6 overall and 7-1 in the NWC. Whitworth is tied with Pacific Lutheran atop the league standings and the Pirates will host the Lutes next Friday.
"Tonight was Lauren's best match as a Pirate," said Whitworth head coach Kati Bodecker. "She turned a corner after setting some goals in practice this week. She really rose up and achieved those."
Taylor Peterson also had 13 kills for the Wildcats (8-7, 2-6 NWC) without committing an error. But it was not enough to prevent Linfield from dropping its sixth straight match.
The Wildcats led 8-7 in the opening set before Whitworth went on an 8-0 run. Emiko Kahler served three consecutive aces and Budde had a pair of kills during the rally. The Bucs steadily pulled away and won the set when Linfield's final attack went long.
Whitworth used another big run to win the second set. The Wildcats had taken a 5-4 lead on a Peterson kill when the Pirates went on a 10-0 spurt for a 14-5 advantage. Whitworth benefited from four Linfield attack errors. The Bucs eventually grabbed a 19-8 lead on another Budde kill before going deep into the bench to finish out the frame.
Linfield tied the final set 12-12 on after a Whitworth ball handling error. The Pirates went on a quick 5-1 run and didn't trail again. Budde appropriately ended the match with her final kill of the night.
Whitworth posted a season-best team hitting percentage of .402. Gracie Meiners directed the offense with 41 assists. Budde was the only Pirate to reach double figures in kills, but four of her teammates had at least six. Cassandra Mendoza finished with nine.
"We came in with a more aggressive mentality tonight," Bodecker said. "A big part of being successful offensively is good first contact and we passed well tonight which put Gracie in good position to make sets."