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October 30, 2010

Volleyball Classic Goes to Lutes in Five Sets

PARKLAND - Pacific Lutheran stayed in the hunt for the Northwest Conference volleyball title on Saturday night by defeating the visiting George Fox Bruins in a five-set thriller in Olson Auditorium.

The 22-25, 28-26, 25-20, 19-25, 15-9 victory moves the Lutes to 17-7 overall and 11-3 in the conference standings, one game back of co-leaders Whitworth and Puget Sound. With the loss, the Bruins are now 10-14 overall and 5-9 in the conference.

The match had everthing with the Bruins digging up countless PLU attack attempts, the Lutes blocking the George Fox attacks at the net, and both offenses finding ways to add to their kill counts.

PLU All-American Beth Hanna led all players with 19 kills, while teammates Kelsie Moore and Missy DeWalt added 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Other Lutes statistical highlights showed Sarah Beaver with 48 assists, Blair Bjorkman with a team-high 28 digs, followed by Moore with 25 and Rose Mattson with 16, and Erin Bremond with seven block assists. Mattson led the Lutes with three aces. The Lutes hit .199 in the match, in addition to finishing with 11 team blocks and 95 digs.

George Fox had four players in double figures in kills - Kristin Knaupp and Isabel Valentine with 14 each, Stephanie Kerr with 12 and Cassie Irwin with 11. Ali Toedtemeier had 55 assists, and Patti Reeves led all players with 31 digs, followed by Toedtemeier with 17 and Chelsea Wilson with 16. Betsy Wilhelm and Wilson both had three service aces. The Bruins hit .147 and had 108 digs.

In the opening set, the Lutes took a quick 3-0 lead on a pair of Hanna kills followed by a DeWalt kill. Once GFU tied it at 4-4, neither team led by more than two points until the Bruins grabbed a 22-18 advantage on Kerr's kill. The Lutes got it as close as 23-22, but a kill by Irwin and a PLU ball handling error finished the set in the Bruins' favor.

The Lutes opened the second set by taking a 13-7 lead on Bjorkman's ace, and they seemed in control when Beaver's service ace put them ahead 22-17. The Bruins scored the next five points on three PLU errors and kills by Kerr and Wilhelm. The score was tied at 23, 24, 25 and 26 before the Lutes tallied the final two points on a Bruins attack error and a Hanna kill.

The third set was a carbon copy of the second as PLU forged a 13-7 lead on DeWalt's kill, but this time the Lutes never did give up the lead, keeping the Bruins at least two points behind the rest of the way.

In the fourth set, PLU held a 5-4 lead when George Fox ripped off six straight point on Carley Johnson's serve, with the first five coming on three kills by Valentine and two by Knaupp. The Bruins continued to add on, leading by as many as nine points at 18-9 on a PLU attack error. The Lutes were able to get within four points on two occasions, but George Fox earned the win to send it to a fifth-and-deciding set.

Needing a victory to stay in the hunt for their fifth straight conference title, the Lutes came out strong in the final set, taking a 4-0 lead behind a kill by DeWalt and a Mattson service ace. PLU eventually led by as many as six points before closing it out on consecutive Bruins attack errors. After hitting .326 in an impressive fourth-set win, the Bruins hit -.087 in the fifth set compared to PLU's .176.

The Lutes return to action at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, when they host the Puget Sound Loggers in a crucial Northwest Conference match.

- PLU -