By John Tveter, Sports Writer
When the Lutes’ volleyball team hosted the Willamette Bearcats on Saturday night, the players knew they had two jobs to do. They had a volleyball match to win, and they also needed to decorate Olson Auditorium with pink as part of their Breast Cancer Awareness Night. The decorating was easy. The win? Well, they had to work a bit harder for that. It took five sets for the Lutes to pull away with the victory.
After falling behind by losing the first two sets, the Lutes headed back into the locker room in an unfamiliar position. For the first time in Northwest Conference play this season, they were down 2-0 during their intermission. Their backs were up against the wall, and they were looking for answers.
“The first two games we didn’t play as ourselves, we didn’t play our game,” outside hitter Chelsea Nelson, a junior, said. “One of the great things about our team is that the whole bench stays involved in the game, so whenever anybody is called upon to help the team, they are always ready.”
The Lutes did indeed go to their bench for help, and Nelson was ready. Nelson brought energy off the bench and finished with 10 kills as she helped turn around the match. Her play was key in propelling the Lutes to quick wins in the third and fourth sets, and a close win in the fifth and final set. The win was the 19th consecutive win for Pacific Lutheran University over Willamette.
The Lutes attack was very balanced on the night, with 5 players tallying double-digit kills. Sophomore Lucy Capron led the team with 15 kills, while senior Allison Wood, junior Amy Wooten, senior Bethany Huston, and Nelson all notched 10 or more kills as well. Their offensive prowess on the night was only made possible by the excellent defense of the PLU libero Amber Aguiar, a junior, who finished with 29 digs. Setter Samantha North, a junior, ended up with 65 assists.
The nationally-ranked Lutes return to action Friday, Nov. 1 when they host the Whitman Missionaries at 7 p.m. PLU will then face the Whitworth Pirates Nov. 2 in a match that will also be celebrated as senior night. ◼︎