By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
NEWBERG, Ore. -- Jennifer Lane (Sr., MH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) continued her strong start to the 2019 season in Willamette University's third and fourth matches of the year, as she registered 11 kills and a 216 hitting percentage in a 3-2 loss to University of St. Thomas (Minn.) and then added 11 kills and a .244 hitting percentage in a 3-1 loss to John Carroll University (Ohio). Both matches were played at the Wheeler Sports Center on the Campus of George Fox University on Saturday, Aug. 31, as part of the Oregon Trail Classic.
St. Thomas, which earned a 25-9 record last season, rallied past the Bearcats, 20-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-17, 15-11, to improve to 3-0 on the season. John Carroll advanced its record to 2-1 with a 25-20, 18-25, 27-25, 25-20 win. Willamette ended the tournament with a 1-3 record, but the Bearcats' opponents held only a slim 9-8 in sets won during the weekend.
Lane's 23 kills matched her total from the first day of the Oregon Trail Classic on Friday, Aug. 30. On Friday, she earned 10 kills in a 3-0 sweep of Central College (Iowa) and tacked on 13 kills in a 3-2 loss to Hamline University (Minn.). Lane has 46 kills for far this season for an average of 2.71 kills per cent with a .237 hitting percentage.
"Jennifer Lane could become of the best middle hitters in our conference this season," Willamette Head Coach Tom Shoji said. "She was unstoppable at times this weekend."
On Saturday, Lane was one of several Willamette players who excelled.
In the five-set match with St. Thomas, Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) topped the Bearcats with 16 kills and hit .235. Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Bach, HI/Maryknoll School) and Lexi Martin (Fy., MH, Bellevue, WA/Interlake HS) each contributed seven kills. Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute) led WU with 29 digs. Queja recorded 17 digs, while Klotz added 16 digs. Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) supplied 43 assists and 15 digs.
Against John Carroll, Lane was joined in double figures by Queja, who accumulated 11 kills to go with 12 digs. Kyana Benjamin (Jr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) and Klotz each tacked on seven kills. Porter amassed 30 assists and 18 digs. Sato achieved 17 digs.
"We played very well at times over this weekend," Shoji commented. "Emma Porter is our starting setter and she is bringing a whole new look to our offense. She id a great job. Another first-year player, Shayla Sato, is an exciting libero who fans will love to watch. She is so quick! We are a young team that will get better every time we take the court."
Bearcats and Tommies Open Day with 5-Set Battle
Willamette scored four consecutive points early in the first set against St. Thomas to break a 2-2 tie start a 9-1 run that gave the Bearcats an 11-3 lead. WU extended the margin to 10 points at 17-7 a bit later following a kill by Lane. The Bearcats eventually led 22-10 before winning the set, 25-20.
In the second set, the score was tied at 14-14 before St. Thomas tallied four points in a row to open an 8-2 run. The Tommies held a 22-16 lead following the run, but Willamette countered with nine consecutive points to win the set, 25-22. WU's set-winning rally included a kill by Lane, a service ace from Sato, and two kills by Queja.
St. Thomas won the final three sets to take the match. The Tommies built a 16-8 lead in the third set on their way to a 25-14 victory. In the fourth set, St. Thomas used a 5-0 run for a 9-4 lead on its way to a 25-17 win.
The fifth set started with a 4-1 surge by the Bearcats that included one kill apiece by Lane, Klotz and Queja. Three points later, Willamette held a 5-3 lead.
WU and St. Thomas were tied three times during the next six rallies, ending with a deadlock at 7-7. The Tommies move into an 8-7 lead and then tacked on three more points for an 11-7 margin. WU got as close as 12-10 on an attacking error by the Tommies and 13-11 on a kill by Lane, but St. Thomas added a kill by Hannah Braun and a solo block by Selena Levendoski to win the set, 15-11, for a 3-2 victory in the match.
Top players for UST included Fran Egan with 16 kills, Levendoski wtih 13 kills, and Ellie Meyer with 27 digs. Grace Anetipa registered 52 assists, 15 digs an four kills.
An extended story will be posted soon.
Blue Streaks Win 3rd Set 27-25 on Way to 3-1 Win
John Carroll rallied from a 25-24 deficit in the third set to claim a 27-25 win and take a 2-1 lead over Willamette. The Blue Streaks then grabbed the fourth set, 25-20, to win the match.
The first set was tied at 6-6 before JCU went on a 5-1 run for an 11-7 advantage. Willamette battled back within two points at 13-11 on a combo block by Lane and Queja, and also cut the lead to two points at 14-12 on a service error by the Blue Streaks. A 6-2 surge by John Carroll advanced the lead to 20-14, and the Blue Streaks went on to take a 25-20 win.
WU prevailed in the second set by a 25-18 margin. The teams were tied six times on their way to an 8-8 deadlock. Willamette seized a 12-8 lead on a service ace by Klotz, but the Blue Streaks pulled within 13-12 five rallies later, but the Bearcats took charge with a 7-3 run for a 20-15 edge. The Bearcats led by at least three points the rest of the set.
In the third set, the teams played through multiple ties and lead changes. The Bearcats led 10-7 and 16-13 but trailed briefly a bit later before moving in front, 25-24. The Blue Streaks gathered in the next three points to win the set. John Carroll held the lead for much of the fourth set, but WU owned an 18-17 lead following a kill by Benjamin. The Blue Streaks moved back in front 19-18 and went on to take the set and the match.
JCU was led by Sarah Calabrese with 15 kills and 17 digs and by Brooke Hjerpe with 12 kills and 18 digs. Cassi Calamunci earned 11 kills. Anna Coughlin supplied 17 digs.
Up Next for Willamette
The Bearcats will play their home opener on Tuesday, Sept. 3 against Northwest Nazarene University. Match time is set for 7 p.m. (PDT) at Cone Field House.