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September 24, 2013

Lutes Host No. 14 Puget Sound in Wednesday Rivalry Matchup

PARKLAND – Sixteenth-ranked Pacific Lutheran returns to action on Wednesday, hosting cross-town rival No. 14 Puget Sound at 7 p.m. at Olson Auditorium's Names Family Court. PLU will then take to the road, traveling to Willamette on Saturday to play a 7 p.m. match at Cone Field House.

The Lutes kicked off Northwest Conference play with three-set sweeps over Pacific and Linfield last weekend to begin the conference season with a 2-0 record. This week, PLU advanced two spots to No. 16 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Div. III Top 25 poll.

At the front of the Lute attack is senior Haley Urdahl with 2.46 kills per set. Bethany Huston follows close behind, contributing 2.08 kills per set and leading defensively with 1.05 blocks per set.

Guiding the offense is setter Samantha North with 9.57 assists per set, while Lutes' libero Amber Aguiar has tallied 226 digs on the season and leads the conference with 6.11 digs per set.

Next up, Pacific Lutheran will host cross-town rival Puget Sound on Wednesday night. The Loggers are currently 2-0 in conference play with a 7-4 record overall.

UPS senior Jackie Harvey leads the Logger attack with 120 kills (3.24 per set) and defensively has tallied 141 digs. Guiding the Logger offense is senior Christina Chun with 165 digs.

Loggers' middle blocker Nicolette Reynaud has collected 20 blocks on the season while teammate Jordan Bird follows close behind with 19 blocks.

The Lutes and Loggers matched up in nonconference play at the Puget Sound Tournament hosted at the UPS Memorial Fieldhouse. The Lutes found themselves having to rally from a deficit in each set and despite their tough efforts, fell to UPS 3-1 by scores of 25-8, 22-25, 25-22 and 25-19.

"Puget Sound always has a good, solid program," PLU head coach Kevin Aoki said. "We lost to them in preseason so we're anxious to get back on the floor and see if we've made some improvements."

On Saturday, the Lutes will travel to Salem, Ore., to compete against Willamette. PLU currently holds a 17-match win streak over the Bearcats, including 10 match sweeps. The Lutes have not dropped a match against Willamette since their 3-2 loss in 2004.

"Willamette is much improved despite their 0-2 conference record," Aoki said. "They have some good senior players that we have to be ready for."

Senior Carly Hargrave holds the top spot for the Bearcats and the NWC with 1.22 blocks per set while sophomore Sarah Fincher leads her team with 126 kills (2.98 per set). Bearcats' setter Emily Compton has tallied 9.37 assists per set and senior Shannon Waltz owns a .333 attack percentage (83 kills in 183 attempts), which leads the Northwest Conference.