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September 2, 2011

PLU Makes Quick Work of No. 18-Ranked Whitworth

TACOMA - Facing the No. 18-ranked and defending Northwest Conference champion Whitworth at the Puget Sound Volleyball Tournament didn't intimidate Pacific Lutheran as the Lutes swept aside the Pirates in three straight games on Friday evening at Memorial Fieldhouse.

Behind 10-kill matches from middles Erin Bremond and Bethany Huston and a combined 33 digs beetween Blair Bjorkman and Kelsie Moore, the Lutes won 25-16, 25-23, 25-22 to improve to 2-0 on the young season. They face UC Santa Cruz at 1 p.m. and tournament host Puget Sound at 5 p.m. Saturday to wrap up their tournament appearance.

Though this was a non-conference counter, the early-season contest between two of the conference favorites figured to be a close battle. That's the way it turned out in the second and third sets, but the Lutes were on fire in rolling past the Pirates in the opening set.

Pacific Lutheran finished with 15 kills and a .275 attack percentage, led by five kills from Moore and four from Chelsea Nelson to take the first set by nine point. Samantha North had 12 of her match-high 31 assists in the opening set. With the score tied at 9-9, Nelson recorded a kill that put the Lutes in front to stay.

The second and third sets reverted to expected form.

In the second set, the Lutes rolled out to a 10-6 lead after three consecutive attack errors by the Pirates, but after a timeout Ka'ipo Rocha lit up the offense with four kills to help her team eventually surge into a 19-18 advantage. The score reached 23-23 before the Lutes closed out the win with consecutive kills by Huston.

PLU jumped to the early lead in the third set, taking a 10-4 lead and later building an 18-13 bulge on an ace by Amber Aguiar. Whitworth showed its class, tying it at 18-18 with the help of two Ka'ipo Rocha kills and a service ace by Jalana White.

Trailing 20-19, the Lutes ran off three straight points on kills by Allison Wood, Moore and Huston, and Huston later added a kill to make it 24-21 before North ended the match with a service ace.

PLU finished with a .162 attack percentage compared to a .098 mark for Whitworth. Ka'ipo Rocha led all players with 12 kills, while Bree Riddle chipped in with 24 assists for the No. 18-ranked Division III team.

- PLU -