Bearcats Defeat Linfield, 3-1, behind 14 Kills from both Queja and Cadien

Dani Queja is ready to hit the ball on an attack for Willamette.
Dani Queja (Jr., OH, Ewa Beach, HI/Maryknoll School)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Willamette University rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Linfield University, 3-1, in a Northwest Conference volleyball match on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at Ted Wilson Gymnasium. The Bearcats won the match, 15-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21. Dani Queja (Jr., OH, Ewa Beach, HI/Maryknoll School) and Olivia Cadien (Fy., OH, Mesa, AZ/Chandler Preparatory Academy) each pounded out 14 kills and three service aces. Queja also supplied 16 digs, while Cadien earned three total blocks.

The Bearcats achieved a 48-40 edge in kills and registered nine service aces against six serving errors. Linfield attained five service aces and committed seven serving errors.

"We started the match unfocussed and had a rough first set," Willamette Head Volleyball Coach Lily Hallock said. "The team was able to step up and turn the tide with more aggressive serving. This group finds success through their belief in, and support of, each other. All of them can look at any one of their teammates and know that person has their back."

Willamette evened its overall record at 7-7, while improving to 4-5 in the NWC. The Wildcats fell to 4-10 overall, 0-9 in the NWC. The Bearcats have swept the season series from Linfield. Earlier in the season on Sept. 15, WU downed the Wildcats, 3-1, at Cone Field House.

In addition to featuring 14 kills each by Queja and Cadien, Willamette's statistics in the rematch on Wednesday included seven kills from Kaitlyn Westby (Fy., MH, Redmond, WA/Eastside Catholic HS) and five kills by Kaiona Apio (So., OH, Edmonds, WA/Edmonds-Woodway HS). Shyla Sato (Jr., LIB, Honolulu, HI/MId-Pacific Institute) provided 20 digs. Emma Porter (Jr., S, Honolulu, HI/Mid-Pacific Institute) added 33 assists and 19 digs. Steele Jasa (Jr., S/LIB, Bend, OR/Summit HS) amassed 20 digs, while Westby earned three block assists.

For Linfield, Raelynn Hammock produced 15 kills and 20 digs. Regan Dean tacked on eight kills. Maya Nakasone led the Wildcats with 22 digs. Mia Naccarato recorded 29 assists and was credited with 10 digs.

The Bearcats used a 3-0 run to take a 10-8 lead in the first set following a kill by Porter. WU and Linfield were tied 11 times during the set until the Wildcats pulled away from a 15-15 tie with a 10-0 run. Hammock served on the final nine points in the set, including two aces.

Willamette rebounded with a 25-22 win in the second set. Linfield was in front 4-1 after five rallies, but the Bearcats went on an 11-4 run to grab a 12-8 lead. Queja provided three kills during the run, which ended with a kill from Porter followed by a kill from Cadien. Several points later, WU held a 15-11 advantage after a kill by Westby. The Wildcats eventually tied the set at 18-18. Willamette regained the lead for good with a kill by Westby to start a 4-0 run.

In the third set, Willamette pounded out a match-high 18 kills and hit .250. The success on offense helped the Bearcats earn an 11-6 margin partway through the set. Linfield rallied for an 18-17 lead following a block by Ellie Mead. WU tallied the next two points on a kill from Lexi Martin (Jr., MH, Bellevue, WA/Interlake HS) and a kill from Cadien. The teams were tied at 19-19 and 20-20, but an attacking error by Dean and another kill by Cadien gave the Bearcats a 22-20 edge. Willamette took the set, 25-21.

The Bearcats won eight of the first 10 points in the fourth set. A bit later, Willamette owned a 13-6 lead and the Bearcats were in front 14-9 following a kill by Queja. The WU advantage was 21-15 after a kill by Cadien. Linfield reduced the margin to 23-21 on a combo block by Aylea Dixon and Siera Crawford, but the Bearcats closed out the match by winning the next two points.

Willamette will host Pacific Lutheran University in an NWC match at Cone Field House on Friday, Oct. 15. The match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (PDT).