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October 31, 2009

Lutes Remain Unbeaten in NWC Volleyball

PARKLAND - Pacific Lutheran remained unbeaten in Northwest Conference volleyball action with a 25-23, 25-23, 25-20 win over the visiting Whitworth Pirates on Saturday evening in Olson Auditorium.

The Lutes improved their overall record to 18-6 and they are now 14-0 in the conference, including 12 matches where they have swept their opposition in three straight sets. With the defeat, Whitworth falls to 9-16 overall and 5-9 in the conference.

The first two sets were played on even terms throughout. In the first set, the Pirates finished with a .243 attack percentage compared to a .270 mark for the Lutes. There were five ties and two lead changes in the set. Kelsie Moore and Beth Hanna carried the set for the Lutes, finishing with eight and six kills, respectively. Kristi Neubauer came off the bench to provide 11 assists after all-conference setter Sarah Beaver injured a finger in the early going. The Pirates, meanwhile, had balance in their attack with four kills from Morgan Veleke and three apiece from Ka'ipo Rocha and sister Kaimi Rocha.

The second set was even closer with 11 ties and seven lead changes, and Hanna was key to the Lutes pulling out the win by cranking out eight more kills. The Rocha girls were on target for the Pirates, Kaimi notching five kills and Ka'ipo added four in the set. With the score tied at 21-21, Moore sandwiched a pair of kills around a ball-handling error by the Pirates, giving the hosts the momentum. Kelcy Joynt finished the set with a kill.

The Lutes finally wore down the Pirates in the third set, taking a 13-5 lead and maintaining at least a three-point lead the rest of the way. Unfortunately for the Lutes, Hanna, the Lutes' two-time NWC Player of the Year, went down late in the set with an apparent knee injury. Though she did not finish the match, her teammates did with Anella Olbertz, Moore and Joynt recording kills for the final three points.

Hanna led all players with 18 kills and she also paced her team with 14 digs. Moore added 12 kills for the Lutes, who also got 23 assists from Neubauer and 13 more from Beaver, who was able to play all three sets. Olbertz, one of five seniors honored before the match, finished with three solo blocks and four block assists for the winners. Joining Olbertz in the senior honors were Joynt, Brenna Archibald, Lauren Poole and Karen "Heeg" Henjum.

Kaimi Rocha led her team with 10 kills and she also added 12 digs. Ka'ipo Rocha added eight kills, two solo blocks and four block assists, and Veleke led all players with 15 digs.

The Lutes return to action next Friday when they travel to Salem, Ore., to take on the Willamette Bearcats in another Northwest Conference match.

- PLU -