SPOKANE, Wash. –Whitworth University comes home this weekend in sole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference volleyball standings. However, the Pirates will have to face the two schools that earned the wins that put Whitworth at the top of the table. The Bucs will face George Fox University on Friday night at 7:00 pm in the Fieldhouse. Whitworth will host Pacific University of Oregon on Saturday at 5:00 pm.
Watch the Whitworth volleyball schedule for live links to this week's matches.
The Pirates: Whitworth (15-6 overall, 9-1 NWC) lost at home to NAIA-member Lewis-Clark State in five sets on Wednesday, but the Pirates bounced back to win a pair of Northwest Conference matches at Willamette and Lewis & Clark.
Whitworth rallied from two sets behind to force a fifth stanza against the powerful Warriors, but LCSC pulled out the match 25-21, 25-23, 17-25, 18-25, 16-14. Four Pirates hit double figures in kills. Jessica Schmautz had 15, Madison Douglas 14, Lauren Budde 13 and Emiko Kahler 10 in the balanced attack. Erin White finished with 49 assists and Laina Damon had 16 digs. LCSC swept the season series against the Pirates.
Whitworth played sluggishly in its first two sets at Willamette on Friday night, but responded in the third and fourth frames to claim a 26-24, 22-25, 25-10, 25-16 victory over the Bearcats. Whitworth swept the season series and has now won six in a row against Willamette. The Bucs hit .379 in the third set and .310 in the fourth to pull away. Schmautz pounded 21 kills and tied for the team lead with 17 digs. Budde finished with 12 kills and Kahler had 11. Iris Tikhonov added nine kills without committing an error for a .474 hitting percentage. She was also in on four blocks (1 solo, three assists). White tallied 51 assists and Addy Woolery contributed 17 digs and three service aces.
Whitworth swept Lewis & Clark on Saturday night, but had to work hard to do it in the 26-24, 25-19, 27-25 victory. It was the Pirates' second sweep of the Pioneers in 2018 and Whitworth has now won the last ten matches between the schools. Schmautz led the Bucs in kills for the third straight match with 19, while hitting .310. Budde added 10 kills and hit .429 with only one error in 21 attempts. Woolery finished with 20 digs, while White dished 40 assists and added 11 digs.
Schmautz, Again!: Jessica Schmautz is the Northwest Conference volleyball Offensive Student-Athlete of the Week for the fourth time this season. She averaged 4.58 kills per set and hit .264 in three matches last week. The senior hit over .300 in two NWC road victories, adding 35 digs, three service aces and two block assists. Schmautz was previously the NWC Offensive Player of the Week on September 3rd, September 24th and Oct. 1st. In addition to Lauren Budde last week (Oct. 8), Whitworth has had the NWC Offensive Player of the Week five times in 2018.
Crowded at the Top: The second half of the NWC schedule is underway and Whitworth has taken over sole possession of first place in the league standings with a 9-1 record. Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound are only a game behind (each at 8-2). PLU lost at Pacific (Ore.) last Friday, while Puget Sound fell at George Fox on Saturday. Pacific (Ore.) is still in the hunt at 7-3.
NWC Leaders: Several weeks into the season Whitworth stands atop the Northwest Conference statistics in some key categories. The Pirates lead the league in overall kills per set (13.12), assists per set (12.32), hitting percentage (.210) and points per set (16.6).
Individually, Schmautz tops the NWC in kills per set (4.11) and in total kills (312), while White leads in assists per set (10.79) and ranks ninth in service aces per set (0.43). Budde is sixth in the league in kills per set (2.83) and fifth in hitting percentage (.274). Woolery ranks seventh in the NWC in digs per set (4.30) and fourth in total digs (301). Iris Tikhonov is ninth in blocks per set (0.76).
Sharp Schmautz: Jessica Schmautz is making a strong bid for NWC Player of the Year. She currently leads the league in kills per set (4.11), total kills (312) and total attacks (753) by wide margins. She also tops the conference in points per set (4.6) and total points (347.5). Schmautz has been selected as the NWC Offensive Player of the Week four times 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 735 and counting. Despite battling injuries early in 2018, Kahler is averaging 2.45 kills per set.
Erin's Back: Erin White is back at it. She is leading the league in assists per set (10.79) and has increased her offensive production to 1.2 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 (2.83) and she has the highest hitting percentage among Whitworth's top three attackers (.274).
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: George Fox University comes into Friday night's match 8-10 overall and 2-8 in the NWC. However, five of those eight conference losses have come in five sets, including Whitworth's victory over the Bruins on September 21st in Newberg. GFU pulled off the league's upset of the season on Saturday night with a 3-0 sweep of visiting Puget Sound. The Bruins rank second in the NWC in digs per set (16.7) and they are third in both kills per set and assists per set. Senior OH Danyle Dupray is averaging 2.6 kills, 0.42 service aces and 3.7 digs per set. Senior MB Alyssa Burch adds 1.94 kills and 0.8 blocks per set. Sophomore Sophie Lawrence is the NWC's leader in digs per set (5.1). Whitworth rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win the first match of the season against George Fox behind Schmautz's 19 kills. The Pirates have won the last 12 matches between the schools.
Pacific University is 14-6 overall and 7-3 in the NWC heading into a match at Whitman on Friday night. The Boxers became only the second school in the NWC to beat nationally-ranked Pacific Lutheran, 3-1, on Friday night. Pacific leads the NWC in digs per set (17.5) and ranks second to Whitworth in kills per set, assists per set, and team hitting percentage. Junior MB Milana Ivkovic leads the NWC in hitting percentage (.376) and ranks fifth in kills per set (2.8). Junior OH Karlee Duncan is third in kills per set (3.1) and adds 2.8 digs per set. Senior setter Ellie Parker is second in the league in assists per set (9.96). Whitworth played one of its best matches of the season in a 3-0 win at Pacific (Ore.) on September 22nd. Schmautz had 16 kills and Iris Tikhonov was in on eight blocks (2 solo, six assists) to lead the Pirates to their sixth straight win in the series.
Coming Up: Whitworth will travel to Tacoma for matches at Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran on October 26th and 27th.