Women's Volleyball

Whittier threatens No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan at Emory Classic

Whittier threatens No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan at Emory Classic

Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com

WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Volleyball team wrapped up their trip to Atlanta, GA on Saturday dropping two to end the Emory Classic.

The Purple & Gold fell in a heart-breaking five setter to No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan before being swept by St. Benedict.  They drop to 1-3 on the season.    

Game 1 (No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan – L, 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 22-25, 9-15)

Whittier had an opportunity to jump-start their season going on top 2-0 against the No. 13 ranked Titans of Illinois Wesleyan who were coming off an upset win over No. 5 Emory.  But they couldn't secure the upset as IWU came back to pull off the five-setter thriller.

The Purple & Gold controlled the first two sets hitting .239 and .191 holding a slight advantage over the Titans. In the first set they jumped out in front 16-12 and were able to slowly hold that edge despite IWU pulling within one at 22-21.  But after a service error by the Titans, Makenzie Thieme (Corona, Calif.) was able to shut the door notching back-to-back kills putting WC on top 1-0.

In the second, Whittier again went on top this time 13-8.  Illinois Wesleyan fought back to tie things up at 15-15 but an ensuing 4-0 run by the Poets would put them on top 19-15, giving them a lead they wouldn't relinquish.  IWU tried to say in it pulling within one at 23-22 but again the Poets were able to close out the frame as Ashley Whittall (Norwalk, Calif.) and Thieme went back-to-back. 

The third set went back and forth and was deadlocked at 19-19 but after that the Titans were able to use three unanswered to get a small lead, which they wouldn't let go of cutting the WC advantage in half.

The Poets bounced back in the fourth going on top 10-5, 12-9, and then 14-11.  But these leads wouldn't hold as the Titans would storm back to deadlock the stanza at 14-14.  Aubrey Caires (Gardnerville, NV) put WC back on top with a kill and then tied things up with another but a 4-0 spurt by IWU would put them on top for good despite a strong push by WC late.

In the 5th frame, Whittier kept it close.  They were within one at 8-7 following an Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA) kill but right after that IWU would string together three straight that put them on top 11-7.  After an attacking error and a kill by Katelyn Popoff (Hacienda Heights, Calif.), WC saw themselves within three but that's as close as they would get as the Titans would rally with the next three points to secure the come from behind victory. 

Thieme finished with 15 kills on 47 attempts to hit .234 along with nine digs and two block assists.  Whittall added 13 kills with 17 digs and freshman Franki Piloto (Ontario, Calif.) added a career high 11 kills.  In the back row, Camryn Purdom (Moreno Valley, Calif.) finished with 18 digs, while adding 23 assists.  Her back-up Hannah Joyce (Ladera Ranch, Calif.) would also add a double double with 13 assists and 12 digs and Katie Engle (Whittier, Calif.) would tally 24 digs in the backrow.             

Game 2 (St. Benedict – L, 25-21, 25-17, 25-12)

The final game of the classic the Poets took on St. Benedict.  They fell behind early in the first set 9-2 and saw themselves trail by as many as 10 at one point.  But they continued to battle going on a run to pull within three at 23-20 behind a strong serving effort from Valerie van der Linden (Auburn, Calif.) and kills by Caires, Purdom, Piloto, and Whittall. But after that it was all CSB as they would rally to pull off the 25-21 win. 

Thieme led the offense with 14 kills and had support from freshman Sammie Sargent (Santa Clara, Calif.) who added six kills with a .500 hitting percentage and four block assists.  Whittall chipped in with four kills and seven digs and Purdom added a team high 15 assists and six digs. 

Haley Petruescu (La Mirada, Calif.) led the back row with 16 digs.    

Whittier returns home to begin preparations for the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational set to take place next weekend, September 7-8.  There they will take on Clarkson, Mary Hardin-Baylor, Puget Sound, and Whitman.