By Nick Barene, Staff writer
The distinct smell of rivalry was in the air on Sept. 25 in the Olson Gymnasium as the Lutes’ volleyball team took on the 14th ranked University of Puget Sound Loggers. Ranked 16th in the nation, the Lutes took down their cross-town foes to take control of the top spot in the Northwest Conference.
The two teams exchanged points back and forth at a furious pace. The Lutes would prevail in the first set, taking six of the last nine points to earn a 25-21 victory.
The Loggers would strike back in the second set, jumping out to a 7-1 lead and controlling the pace of play. The Lutes would come back to within three, but UPS slammed the door shut with a 25-19 win.
In the third set, the Lutes retook the lead. Up 12-4 in the set, the Lutes never looked back en route to a 25-15 set win.
In the fourth set, the teams, once again, exchanged point after point with the game drawing level at nine points. From there, the Lutes took the lead and held it until late in the frame when UPS tied the score at 24. Samantha North, a junior, assisted senior Bethany Huston on consecutive serves to take the set 26-24. The Lutes won the match 3-1.
“I think it definitely is one of our highlights,” head coach Kevin Aoki said of his team’s win. “Puget Sound was picked to win, but we played really well”.
The Lutes are now winners of four straight matches and are undefeated in NWC play.
“We definitely have been working really hard to prepare for UPS, and we played really strong tonight,” said junior Amber Aguiar.
The Lutes have improved to 3-0 in conference play and boast a 7-4 overall record. PLU is atop the Northwest Conference volleyball standings. The Loggers fell to 2-1 conference and 7-5 overall.
The Lutes will travel to Walla Walla to take on Whitman on Friday at 7 p.m. Afterward, the Lutes will continue their road trip to Spokane, where they will square off against Whitworth on Saturday at 5 p.m.