Volleyball to Close out First Half of NWC Slate

Volleyball to Close out First Half of NWC Slate

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University volleyball team will close out the first half of the Northwest Conference volleyball schedule against a pair of teams that handed the Pirates painful losses in 2017.  Whitman visits the Whitworth Fieldhouse on Wednesday at 6:00 pm.  The Pirates will hit the road for Friday night's match at Linfield College (7:00 pm).   

Watch the Whitworth volleyball schedule for live links to this week's matches.

The Pirates:  Whitworth (11-5 overall, 5-1 NWC) split at home last weekend, dropping a 3-2 decision to Puget Sound on Friday night, but bouncing back for a 3-0 sweep of 9th-ranked Pacific Lutheran on Saturday.

Whitworth suffered its first Northwest Conference loss of the season when Puget Sound pulled out a 13-25, 26-24, 25-21, 20-25, 15-9 victory.  The Pirates could not sustain the momentum of an easy win in the opening set against a young and talented Logger team.  Jessica Schmautz established a Whitworth career-high with 20 kills and added a match-high 15 digs.  Emiko Kahler had 14 kills and Madison Douglas finished with 10 kills and a .348 hitting percentage.  Iris Tikhonov was part of five blocks (one solo, four assisted).  Erin White dished 45 assists and added four service aces.  Whitworth saw its three-match winning streak against Puget Sound come to an end.

The Pirates bounced back in a big way with Saturday's 25-13, 26-24, 25-20 win over 9th-ranked Pacific Lutheran.  The Lutes suffered their first conference loss of the season and only their second loss overall.  Schmautz posted 17 kills, an average of nearly six kills per set.  She had kills from the back row as well as the front.  Lauren Budde added ten kills and finished with a .529 hitting percentage.  Addy Woolery was active on defense with a match-high 22 digs.  Laina Damon served three of the Bucs' six aces.  PLU had swept the Pirates in 2017.

Schmautz Honored a Third Time:  Jessica Schmautz is the NWC Offensive Player of the Week in volleyball for the third time this season.  She averaged 4.63 kills per set in a split with Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran. She added 19 digs and four block assists. She had 17 kills in a three-set sweep of 9th-ranked Pacific Lutheran, averaging nearly six kills per set.  She was previously the NWC Offensive Player of the Week on September 3rd and followed with another recognition on September 24th.

Crowded at the Top: The results around the Northwest Conference, but specifically in Spokane, created a crowd at the top of the NWC volleyball standings.  Whitworth, PLU and Puget Sound are all tied for the league lead at 5-1.  Only one game behind, Pacific (Ore.) is 4-2.  Willamette (3-3) is only two matches out of first place.

NWC Leaders:  Four weeks into the season and Whitworth has made its mark atop the Northwest Conference statistics in several key categories.  The Pirates lead the league in overall kills per set (12.69), assists per set (11.86), and points per set (16.3).  In stats from only NWC matches, Whitworth is first in team hitting percentage (.213), second in blocks per set (2.09) and second in service aces per set (1.91). 

Individually, Schmautz tops the NWC in kills per set (3.95) and in total kills (229), while White leads in assists per set (10.26) and ranks eighth in service aces per set (0.45).  Budde is sixth in the league in kills per set (2.67).  Woolery ranks sixth in the NWC in digs per set (4.21) and fourth in total digs (219).  Tikhonov is ninth in blocks per set (0.79). 

Sharp Schmautz:  Jessica Schmautz has become a force to be reckoned with in the NWC this season.  She currently leads the league in kills per set (3.95), total kills (229) and total attacks (573).  She also tops the conference in points per set (4.4) and total points (257) by a wide margin.  Schmautz has been selected as the NWC Offensive Player of the Week three times already in 2018.

The Leader:  Emiko Kahler has established herself as a dominant player in the NWC over her first two seasons.  She was the 2016 NWC Freshman of the Year and earned a second straight first team All-NWC honor in 2017.  She has averaged 3.04 kills per set over her first two seasons, as well as 3.07 digs per set.  She is well on her way to 1,000 kills in her career with 682 and counting.  Despite battling injuries early in 2018, Kahler is averaging 2.30 kills per set.

Erin's Back:  Erin White is back at it.  She is leading the league in assists per set (10.26) and has increased her offensive production to 1.3 points per set.  She led Whitworth to the 2016 Northwest Conference championship by leading the league in assists per set (10.22) and averaging 1.1 points per set.  She received first team All-NWC recognition.  White sat out 2017 to focus on her nursing major.  She is a senior academically, but a junior in eligibility.

A Budding Star:  Lauren Budde became one of the more dangerous and athletic weapons in the NWC last season, averaging 2.36 and 0.70 blocks per set.  Capable of hitting over many blockers, Budde received honorable mention All-NWC consideration.  In 2018 Budde currently ranks sixth in the NWC in kills per set (2.67) and she has the highest hitting percentage among Whitworth's top three attackers (.234).

The Coach:  Kati Bodecker, 91-43 heading into her sixth season guiding the Pirates, is a three-time Northwest Conference Coach of the Year after leading Whitworth to three straight NWC titles from 2014 through 2016.  Bodecker also directed the Pirates to three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament.  In 2013 she coached the Bucs to a 15-13 record, becoming the first Whitworth volleyball coach to post a winning record in her first season since Margaret Campbell in 1990.  She previously had been the head coach at Priest River High School, leading the Spartans to five state tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish in 2012.  She was a four-year starter at the University of Idaho, helping lead the Vandals to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances as a sophomore and junior.

The Opponents:  Whitman College is 6-8 overall and 2-4 in the NWC.  The Blues lost twice at home last weekend, falling 3-0 to Pacific Lutheran on Friday night and 3-1 to Puget Sound on Saturday.  Whitman is a dangerous team that can play good defense.  The Blues rank third in the NWC in both blocks per set (1.84) and digs per set (15.89).  Senior OH Codie Conching is one of the league's best all-around players.  She is third in the NWC in kills per set (2.95) and second in service aces per set (0.55).  She adds 3.36 digs per set.  Sophomore Claire McCarthy ranks fifth in the league in digs per set (4.31).   After Whitworth swept Whitman at home in the first half of the year, the Blues handed the Pirates a 3-1 setback in the rematch.

Linfield College (5-9, 0-6) heads into Friday night's contest hungry for its first NWC victory of the season.  The Wildcats fell 3-1 at George Fox last Friday and then lost 3-1 at home to Pacific on Saturday.  Linfield leads the NWC in solo blocks (33) and the team averages 1.72 blocks per set.  Sophomore Regan Dean leads her squad in points per set, thanks mostly to 2.1 kills per set and 0.34 services aces per set.  Freshman Keliiheleua Anikalea is averaging 2.2 kills per set.  The Pirates swept the 'Cats 3-0 in Spokane, but Linfield defeated Whitworth 3-1 in the season finale to end a long losing streak.

Coming Up:  Whitworth will host Lewis-Clark State on Wednesday (Oct. 10) before opening the second round of Northwest Conference matches at Willamette and Lewis & Clark the following weekend.