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November 4, 2011

Lutes Throw Up a Wall in Sweeping Linfield

McMINNVILLE, Ore. – Doing their best impression of a brick wall, the 22nd-ranked Pacific Lutheran Lutes proved nearly impenetrable with 15 blocks Friday night at Ted Wilson Gymanasium, rolling to a 25-9, 25-16, 25-17 Northwest Conference volleyball sweep of the Linfield Wildcats.

The victory, combined with a Puget Sound loss to George Fox and a Whitworth win over Lewis & Clark, assured the Lutes of second place in the conference. Whitworth finished with a 14-2 record, while PLU improved to 12-3 with one match remaining. Puget Sound and Lewis & Clark, both with one match left, are tied for third at 9-6.

The visiting Lutes (20-5 overall) were running on all cylinders, particularly in the second set when they hit .257.

In contrast, Linfield was forced into 34 attack errors, committed eight service errors, and was whistled for four ball-handling errors.

The Lutes asserted themselves right from the get-go, bolting to leads of 14-3 and 22-7 in the match's opening frame. PLU piled up eight team blocks in the set, including four assists each from Missy DeWalt and Bethany Huston. Pacific Lutheran's impressive blocking led to 16 Linfield errors, while the Lutes had just one error in attack. Kelsie Moore led the way on the offensive end, totaling three kills and giving the visitors a big push early in the contest.

PLU resumed its dominance in the second set, jumping in front 9-3 on its way to a 25-16 victory. Kelsey Pacolt pounded three kills in the set while Huston and Samantha North each had a hand in four blocks. The Lutes hit a crisp .257 in the set.

Linfield kept things closer in the third set, trailing 15-11 midway through. Huston pounded three kills in the set and the Lutes again forced the Wildcats into more errors (9) than kills (7).

Pacolt paced PLU, finishing with a match-high seven kills, while Erin Bremond totaled a match-best seven block assists. North, the Lutes' setter, chipped in with six blocks assists and 24 assists. Blair Bjorkman piled up 22 digs.

Linfield saw its season record dip to 10-14 overall, 5-10 in the NWC.

PLU finishes its regular season on Saturday night when it plays the Pacific Boxers in Forest Grove, Ore. After that, the Lutes will wait through the weekend to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III postseason tournament.

(Courtesy of Linfield Sports Information Office.)