SPOKANE, Wash. – For the third time this season the Whitworth University volleyball team will play a mid-week match, followed by conference matches on the weekend. The Bucs will face Lewis-Clark State in their final non-conference contest of the season on Wednesday night at 6:00 pm. Whitworth will travel to play Willamette (Friday, 7:00 pm) and Lewis & Clark (Saturday, 5:00 pm) in a pair of Northwest Conference road matches.
Watch the Whitworth volleyball schedule for live links to this week's matches.
The Pirates: Whitworth (13-5 overall, 7-1 NWC) won twice last week to finish the first half of Northwest Conference play in a tie for first place in the league standings.
The Pirates swept visiting Whitman last Wednesday night, but the Bucs had to rally from large deficits in the last two sets to accomplish the sweep. Whitworth won 25-16, 25-22, 27-25, hitting .254 while pounding 49 kills in the contest. Emiko Kahler had 16 kills and hit .438 to lead the Bucs offensively. Jessica Schmautz added 13 kills and 18 digs, while Madison Douglas had 10 kills. Erin White finished with 42 assists and Addy Woolery added 17 digs.
Whitworth went on the road to sweep Linfield College 25-21, 25-20, 25-21 on Friday night. The Pirates built big leads in each set and withstood every Wildcat rally to claim their third straight sweep. Whitworth hit .292 in the match. Lauren Budde led the team with 16 kills and hit .560 with only two errors in 25 attempts. Schmautz added 15 kills and tied for the team lead with 13 digs. White dished 43 assists and served two aces. Whitworth served nine aces in the match.
Budde Picked: Lauren Budde is the NWC Volleyball Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week for her performance in the wins over Whitman and Linfield. Budde averaged 4.0 kills per set and hit .512 for the week with kills on more than half of her total attacks. She averaged 4.3 points per set by adding 0.67 blocks. Budde was Whitworth's fourth NWC Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week honoree, after three nods for Jessica Schmautz. Schmautz was the the NWC Offensive Player of the Week on September 3rd, September 24th and Oct. 1st.
Crowded at the Top: The first half of the Northwest Conference volleyball slate ended with a three-way tie at the top of the standings. Whitworth, PLU and Puget Sound are tied for the league lead at 7-1. Only two games behind, Pacific (Ore.) is 5-3.
NWC Leaders: Several weeks into the season Whitworth stands atop the Northwest Conference statistics in several key categories. The Pirates lead the league in overall kills per set (12.95), assists per set (12.13), and points per set (16.5). In stats from only NWC matches, Whitworth is first in team hitting percentage (.226), third in blocks per set (1.90) and third in service aces per set (2.00).
Individually, Schmautz tops the NWC in kills per set (4.01) and in total kills (257), while White leads in assists per set (10.63) and ranks seventh in service aces per set (0.47). Budde is fifth in the league in kills per set (2.81) and sixth in hitting percentage (.263). Woolery ranks sixth in the NWC in digs per set (4.29) and fifth in total digs (249). Iris Tikhonov is ninth in blocks per set (0.77).
Sharp Schmautz: Jessica Schmautz is making a strong bid for NWC Player of the Year. She currently leads the league in kills per set (4.01), total kills (257) and total attacks (628) by wide margins. She also tops the conference in points per set (4.5) and total points (288.5). Schmautz has been selected as the NWC Offensive Player of the Week three times already in 2018.
The Leader: Emiko Kahler 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 705 and counting. Despite battling injuries early in 2018, Kahler is averaging 2.44 kills per set.
Erin's Back: Erin White is back at it. She is leading the league in assists per set (10.63) 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 among NWC leaders in kills per set (2.81) and she has the highest hitting percentage among Whitworth's top three attackers (.263).
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: NAIA-member Lewis-Clark State College is 13-5 overall and 3-3 in the Frontier Conference coming into Wednesday night. The Warriors lost 3-0 to highly-ranked Rocky Mountain College in their only match last week. LCSC hits .201 as a team and is led offensively by Rachell Gregg, who averages 3.99 kills per set and hits .213. Aubrey King adds 2.94 kills per set. LCSC rolled past visiting Whitworth in three sets on September 19th, despite 13 kills from Schmautz.
Willamette University is 7-10 overall and 4-4 in the NWC heading into Friday night's match. The Bearcats split last weekend, falling 3-1 at Puget Sound on Friday and winning 3-2 against George Fox on Saturday. Willamette ranks second in the NWC in digs per set (16.71). Freshman Natalie Klotz leads her team in kills per set (2.63) and service aces per set (0.50). She adds 2.62 digs per set and 0.6 blocks per set, affecting matches at all positions on the floor. Junior Kendall Fox adds 2.18 kills per set. Whitworth defeated visiting Willamette 3-1 in the NWC opener for both schools on September 14th. Schmautz had 15 kills, while Budde and Kahler had 12 each for the Pirates. Klotz led the Bearcats with 13 kills.
Lewis & Clark College is 9-6 overall and 2-6 in the NWC heading into Friday night's match against Whitman. The Pioneers lost 3-1 at Pacific (Ore.) on Friday and 3-0 at Pacific Lutheran on Saturday. L&C is 4th in the NWC in kills per set and 4th in assists per set. Senior MB Kortney Meyers averages 3.2 kills per set (2nd in the NWC) and 0.75 blocks per set. She is capable of playing every position on the floor. Whitworth swept L&C 3-0 at home on September 15th. Schmautz led the Pirates with 11 kills and Budde had 10. Kendall Malone led L&C with eight kills.
Coming Up: Whitworth will host George Fox and Pacific (Ore.) on October 19th and 20th.