By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
NEWBERG, Ore. -- Shyla Sato (Fy., LIB/DS, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute) registered 14 digs for Willamette University against George Fox University on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Wheeler Sports Center. It was Sato's 11th consecutive match with double-figure digs. She has reached double digits in 19 of 21 matches this season. George Fox won Saturday's match, 25-20, 25-19, 25-20.
The Bruins, who have earned victories in six consecutive matches, upped their record to 10-11, including 7-5 in the Northwest Conference. Willamette slipped to 6-15 overall, 5-7 in the NWC. George Fox is 6-2 since Willamette defeated the Bruins, 3-1, at Cone Field House on Sept. 28.
"I think George Fox is playing the best volleyball in the conference. They are relentless on defense and hardly make any mistakes offensively. Constant pressure by them makes it very difficult on a team. We just had a hard time staying with them. "
— Willamette Head Coach Tom Shoji
Jennifer Lane (Sr., MH, Salinas, CA/Notre Dame HS) provided Willamette with 11 kills and two block assists. Natalie Klotz (So., OH/OPP, Bonner Springs, KS/Bonner Springs HS) supplied eight kills, eight digs and two block assists. Lauren Stiles (Sr., OH, Altadena, CA/Flintridge Preparatory School) amassed 12 digs for the Bearcats, while Emma Porter (Fy., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) completed the match with 28 assists and 10 digs.
Paige O'Rear of George Fox led all players with 14 kills, and also contributed 12 digs. Bailey LeBreton of GFU hit .476 with 10 kills and one attacking error on 21 total attacks. Sophia Lawrence registered a match-high 21 digs for the Bruins. Annika Johnson was credited with 14 digs. Laney Search produced 38 assists.
The first set included nine ties and four lead changes, as neither team led by more than two points during the first 28 rallies. A 13-13 tie was broken by the Bruins with a 4-0 run. WU pulled back within 17-16, but a kill by Ashtyn Butler and an attacking error by the Bearcats gave GFU a 20-16 edge. The Bearcats cut the margin to 20-18 on a kill by Dani Queja (Fy., OH, Ewa Beach, HI/Maryknoll School). The team exchanged the next two points, before the Bruins went on a 4-1 run for a 25-20 win.
In the second set, Willamette held a 6-4 advantage following back-to-back kills by Lane. The Bruins rallied for a 7-6 lead. George Fox also led 10-8 and 12-10, but the Bearcats tied the score at 13-13 on a kill by Queja. A kill from Lane tied the score at 14-14 and a kill by Kyana Benjamin (Jr., MH, Lubbock, TX/Lubbock HS) created a tie a 15-15. The Bruins scored the next seven points, including two service aces by Skylar Paul, to surge out to a 22-15 lead on their way to closing out the set at 25-19.
Willamette kept things close once again for much of the third set. GFU earned a 7-3 lead, but the Bearcats tied the score at 9-9. A few rallies later, Willamette was just one point behind the Bruins at 13-12 after a kill by Klotz. The Bruins took a 17-13 lead, but a kill from Klotz and two attacking errors by GFU, reduced the margin to 17-16. Six of the next seven points went to the Bruins, who built a 23-17 advantage. The set ended with George Fox in front, 25-20.
The Bearcats will play at Whitworth University on Friday, Nov. 1. Match time in Spokane, Washington, is slated for 7 p.m. (PDT).