By Nick Barene, Staff writer
The Lutes’ volleyball team opened Northwest Conference play on Friday night in winning fashion with a three-game sweep over visiting Pacific University.
In the opening set, the Lutes came out swinging, jumping out to a 6-1 lead. The team continued its dominance throughout the set, leading by as many as nine points. The Lutes went on to win by a score of 25-16.
The Lutes carried the momentum from their first set win over into the second set. Pacific couldn’t stop the speed of the Lute attack as they scored on runs of four and five points at a time. Sophomore Lucy Capron scored five of her team-leading 13 kills in the second set and led the Lutes to a decisive 25-15 win. Amber Aguiar, a junior, led the team with 21 digs, and senior Allison Wood added eight kills.
In the third set, the Lutes once again jumped out to an early lead. Determined not to go down in straight sets, Pacific would battle back to come within four points late in the frame, but two kills by senior Becca Holtgeerts sealed the sweep for the Lutes.
Head coach Kevin Aoki commended his entire team for good play and spoke about the depth of his bench.
“Depth is huge for us. It is what has been keeping us at the top of the conference for the last few years, because they [our team] provide such tough competition in practice,” Aoki said. “Bench players eventually become starters, because they already have experience.”
Junior Amy Wooten said, “I feel like every day in practice we’re playing against a top conference team. That’s how good our bench is.”
The Lutes improved to 5-4 overall and 1-0 in NWC play.
On Saturday, the visiting Linfield Wildcats looked like they wanted to make a statement against the 18th ranked Lutes. That gusto was promptly extinguished by the Lutes, who won the match in straight sets for their second consecutive Northwest Conference victory.
In the first set, the two teams traded a few hard-earned points before the Lutes pulled away for a crushing 25-12 set victory. PLU was aided by scoring eight aces in the first frame alone.
The second set told a similar story to the first, with Linfield coming out strong and scoring five straight points. The Wildcats held onto the lead until the Lutes took over on a service ace by Capron. The Lutes would not relinquish that lead and went on to win the set by a score of 25-20.
In the third set, the Lutes scored five straight points to begin the set. Junior Samantha North scored all of those points. PLU didn’t take its foot off the pedal and completed the sweep with a tight 25-21 victory. North paced the Lutes with a staggering 29 assists, compared to just 13 by the top Linfield Wildcat Audrey Frazier.
North has shown great court awareness during the 2013 season. She has racked up 354 assists over the course of 10 matches. North has the ability to fake the set and then dump the ball just over the net for a point.
“The hitters are so amazing,” North said. “I hardly have to do anything. I just throw it up there, and they go and hit it.”
The Lutes improved to 6-4 overall and 2-0 in NWC play. ◼︎