By Alli Kieckbusch– Student Writer
The Whitworth Pirates swept Pacific University 25-21, 25-18, 25-22 on Saturday night, dealing the visiting Boxers a severe blow to their Northwest Conference volleyball title chances.
Whitworth (17-6 overall, 11-1 NWC) holds onto first place in the league standings. Pacific (15-6, 8-4), which owns wins over conference contenders Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound this season, was swept by the Pirates for the second time this season.
Whitworth started the match with four big kills, taking a 9-5 lead. Emiko Kahler pounded two kills and served an ace to put the Bucs up 15-11, but a small Boxer rally brought them within two (22-20). Kahler finished the set with another kill.
The Bucs kept a steady lead in set two. Lauren Budde contributed two straight kills (5-3), and Erin White's kill gave Whitworth a 15-13 lead. A block from Madison Douglas and Kahler stretched the Bucs' lead to 21-15, and Saylor Anderson clinched the set with an ace.
The Pirates and the Boxers traded points throughout the third set. A dump from Erin White put Whitworth up 8-7, but Pacific forced several errors that kept the score close. Down 18-14, the Bucs rallied 5-0 to gain a 19-18 lead. Another service ace from Kahler, and final kills from Jessica Schmautz and Iris Tinkhonov concluded the win for Whitworth.
Schmautz led the Pirates with 14 kills with the help of Erin White's 34 assists. Kahler finished with 9 kills, 3 service aces, and 10 digs.
Pacific's Jordan Zweifel had 12 kills and hit .435 while Haley Walz had 14 digs.
Whitworth will travel to Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University next weekend for a pair of matches that could decide the 2018 NWC championship.