TACOMA, Wash.—The word 'classic' gets thrown around frequently in sports these days, but Wednesday night's matchup between the University of Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran University's volleyball squads deserves to be a classic. The Loggers came back from a two-game hole and won the final three games, besting their cross-town rivals 3-2 in a key Northwest Conference matchup at Memorial Fieldhouse in Tacoma, Wash.
Jackie Harvey, shut down by PLU in the early games of the match, came alive in the final game. She scored five of the Loggers' 11 kills in the game including the one that ended the match. Her final kill put her at 17 for the match and 1,000 kills in her Logger career. As she tallied her 1,000th career dig Oct. 29 at George Fox, Harvey became the first Puget Sound player to tally 1,000 career kills and digs since the advent of rally scoring in 2001.
The Lutes actually stormed out to leads of 4-1 and 8-4 in the final game. With their backs against the wall again, the Loggers responded with five straight points, taking a 9-8 lead and forcing Pacific Lutheran to call a timeout. The timeout worked as Amy Wooten earned a kill that notched the game at 9-all. The Loggers took the next four of the next five points, however, with kills from Harvey, Jenni Brehove, and Emily Convery to go along with a Jalene Toy service ace. The Lutes took two points to cut the Loggers lead to 13-11, but that was all as Harvey ended the match with two straight kills.
The Loggers managed an even bigger comeback in the fourth game, trailing PLU 23-19 late and down to their final two points. Down 23-18, Brehove killed off a Lute serve and proceeded to serve up six more points to steal away the fourth game for the Loggers. During that comeback, The Loggers benefitted from two kills from Harvey and one from Brehove, two aces from Brehove, and two Lute errors. The points capped a game that saw the Lutes take a six point lead halfway through the game. There were only two tie scores and one lead change in the fourth game, but it came at a crucial point and allowed the Loggers to force the deciding fifth game.
The Loggers saved their best hitting percentages for last, hitting .300 in the fourth game and .320 in the fifth. The Lutes, on the other hand, hit .208 in the fourth and .182 in the final game.
Puget Sound's comebacks later in the match couldn't have happened without a victory in the third game. The two squads traded points to begin the game and were tied with each other at 11 apiece midway through the period. Puget Sound then took two points in a row with kills by Harvey and Jordan Bird, giving the Loggers a lead they never relinquished. The Lutes were still within two points, down 18-16, but the Loggers rattled off five consecutive points, taking a commanding 23-16 lead. The Loggers' 24th point came on a kill from Harvey, then they won the match thanks to an attack error by Bethany Huston. The Loggers hit .171 in the third set, tallying 10 kills. They also benefited from eigth Lute attack errors.
Puget Sound's blockers played a huge part in the match as they tallied 13 total blocks and 24 block assists. Convery helped with six blocks, while Nicolette Reynaud tallied five block assists. Three Loggers also added three block assists. In comparison, the Lutes had five total team blocks, and just one player with three block assists.
The Lutes started the match by taking the first two games. The first game was tightly contested, with 10 tie scores and six lead changes. The Lutes didn't gain the upper hand for good until they took a 22-20 game lead. A service error game the Loggers one point, but Pacific Lutheran took the next three points to claim the set 25-21.
Pacific Lutheran came out firing in the second game, hitting .344 in the game and taking a 6-3 lead. The Loggers pulled within one point at 12-11, but the Lutes won four straight and nine of the next 10 points to take a commanding 21-12 lead. Puget Sound took two more points in the game, but that was it as the Lutes claimed the second set 25-14.
"Once we got our serving on board, we changed our strategy a little bit...we started winning some of those battles in transition they won in games one and two," said Mark Massey, head coach of the Loggers. "Once we got back to who we were as a serving and passing team and winning the transitions was really what turned the tide for us. Regardless, it was just a knock-down, drag-out that was a classic match between the two teams."
Harvey led all players with 17, followed closely by Marissa Florant with 15. Pacific Lutheran's Amber Aguiar dug up an astounding 45 balls, while Christina Chun led Puget Sound in the category with 26. Samantha North of PLU assisted with 50 kills, while Brehove tallied 48 assists for the home team.
With the win, Puget Sound (15-5, 10-1 NWC) clinched its 8th victory in a row and a share of the Northwest Conference lead. They host Lewis & Clark on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:00 p.m., again at Memorial Fieldhouse. The Lutes (14-5, 10-1 NWC) suffered their first conference loss of the year and now are in tied with their cross-town rivals for first place. They next host Willamette Oct. 26 at 7:00 p.m.