By Deborah Cabanos, Guest Writer
Halloween night can give anyone the spooks, but the Pacific Lutheran University volleyball team did the scaring against visiting Lewis & Clark College on Friday, sweeping the Pioneers in three sets to continue its march toward the Northwest Conference title.
Senior Amy Wooten and juniors Lucy Capron and Kylai Cooley continued their impressive form and combined for 30 kills throughout the match.
“We had an incredible crowd on Halloween night and I believe that we used that energy from the fans to give us some momentum,” senior Lauren McClung said.
Not distracted by the wide array of costumes in the crowd, the Pioneers took the lead against the Lutes, and it was a close match halfway through the first set with the score at 14-13 in favor of PLU.
Six unanswered points helped PLU feel a little more comfortable at 20-14.
“We could have stopped them from going on fewer serving runs,” junior Alyssa Workman said. “They had a couple times where they got four or five points, so limiting those would obviously have helped.”
PLU took the set 25-17.
Lewis & Clark matched up well with the Lutes, and the team fed off the energy of every missed shot by PLU in the second set.
Despite not holding the lead after going up 3-1, the Pioneers were a thorn in the side of the Lutes, and three straight points cut into PLU’s lead at 14-15.
Senior Sam North was setting well the whole night and eventually helped the team finish out the second set 25-19.
“I think we played great defense in the first two sets,” Workman said. “Lewis & Clark was scrappier than we expected, so there was a lot of long rallies.”
The third set tested the Lutes’ defensive ability and the Pioneers were determined to make the game difficult in a do-or-die set.
PLU seems to have a habit of trading points early on in sets, and Lewis & Clark started well by taking a 5-3 lead.
Both teams went back and forth for the rest of the set, and the Pioneers held a three-point advantage over the Lutes at 16-13.
A nail-biter at 22-22, the Lutes didn’t panic and took the last three points to earn the sweep with a 25-22 third set win.
North finished the game with 39 assists and senior Ariana Judson added seven kills.
“Moving forward, we can’t waste time and energy worrying about what other teams in the conference are doing,” Judson said. “We just have to focus on ourselves and our upcoming matches.”
With the win, PLU improved to 11-2 in NWC and 18-4 overall. Lewis & Clark dropped to 5-9 in conference and 11-12 overall.
PLU returned to the Names Family Court the following day to take on Pacific.
The Lutes played against the Pacific Boxers Saturday, coming out triumphant with another three set sweep in their last weekend home game of the season.
The seniors were also honored in a pregame ceremony.
“Although it was senior night, we, as a team, wanted to play for the seniors since it was their special night,” said sophomore defensive specialist Taylor Komagome
The game started off with the Lutes getting to a solid four-point lead.
However, the Boxers rallied to bring the score to 11-10.
This didn’t stop the Lutes as they went on to win the set 25-14, scoring 14 points out of the last 18 plays in the set.
The second set proved to be more challenging as the game tied at 13-13 and again at 16-16.
The Lutes eventually went on to win the set with a score of 25-17.
“There was a moment in the second set where we seemed to let up a little, but for the most part we played very strong and consistent,” senior middle blocker Lauren McClung said.
The Lutes won the third set in a pretty quick round.
With a third set score of 25-14 and the sweep secured, the players could rest and enjoy the win.
The stands and student sections were filled as the PLU community came to support their girls in their final weekend home game.
Amber Aguiar, Amy Wooten, Ariana Judson, Samantha North, and Lauren McClung were the seniors recognized on Senior Night.
For North, the game did not feel any different.
“I know we still have some of the season left,” North said. “I do not think it will hit me until next year when I do not have school or volleyball to occupy my time.”
McClung saw the game as a special night as support from fans, friends and family flooded the court.
With the two wins last Saturday, the Lutes have a 12-2 Northwest Conference record and an overall record of 19-4.
Pacific continued to struggle and fell to 2-12 in conference and 6-16 overall.
“Even though last night was sentimental, we are still looking forward to finishing off our conference strong in hopes to continue on in the regional tournament,” McClung said.
The Lutes will play their final game of the NWC season on Wednesday Nov. 5 at home against University of Puget Sound at 7 p.m. and finish the season away at Willamette in Salem, Ore., also at 7 p.m.
Game 1 by Giancarlo Santoro
Game 2 by Deborah Cabanos 🅼