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October 5, 2012

PLU Volleyball Reaches NWC Halfway Point Unbeaten

Pacific Lutheran reached the halfway point of the Northwest Conference season Friday night with an unblemished record after beating the visiting George Fox Bruins, 25-17, 25-23, 25-17, on Olson Auditorium's Names Family Court.

The Lutes, ranked No. 17 in this week's American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Top 25 poll, won for the eight straight time, all against conference foes, to improve to 14-2 overall and a perfect 8-0 in the NWC. George Fox is 6-8 overall and 4-3 in conference following the defeat.

PLU's balanced offensive attack was too much for the Bruins, who gamely tried to pull the upset in front of a noisy crowd of some 450 fans. George Fox ended the match with six team blocks, including three solo blocks and one block assist from Tiffany Burk, and it also had 59 digs, including a team-best 18 from Erin Campbell. On the offensive side, Lucy Capron had eight kills and Payton Shrum contributed 24 assists. Despite that effort, the Lutes were simply too much for the visitors.

Haley Urdahl ended up with 11 kills, six in the first set, and Allison Wood and Bethany Huston contributed 10 apiece as the Lutes hit .212 as a team. Samantha North continued her outstanding play as the sophomore setter finished with 35 assists, three kills and three block assists. Blair Bjorkman had 20 digs and Amber Aguiar added thre of PLU's seven service aces.

George Fox gave up the first point of the match but scored the next four in a row to take a 4-1 lead in the opening set. The Lutes broke a 7-7 tie on a kill by Kelsey Pacolt and continued to pull away, eventually taking a 19-14 advantage on another Pacolt finish. Leading 20-17, PLU ended the set with a 5-0 run, including consecutive kills by Amy Wooten and a set-ending combination block from North and Wooten.

Pacific Lutheran took an big early lead in the second set, getting on top 7-3 on Wooten's kill and eventually taking a 14-9 advantage on a George Fox ball handling miscue. That's when the Bruins battled back, however, scoring seven of the next nine points to tie it at 16-16. Campbell had a pair of kills during the run.

A George Fox service error made the score 20-19 in favor of the Lutes, and they would hold off the pesky Bruins through the remainder of the set. Pacolt ended the set with one of her seven kills.

The third set was tied at 4-4 when PLU broke it open, soon taking a 14-6 lead. The Bruins got within three points on a couple of occasions but no closer. Huston was a perfect 4-for-4 in attacks during the set, and Wood added five of her kills. Brianne Vincent ended the set with a service ace.

- PLU -