MONMOUTH, Ore. – The Western Oregon University volleyball team had come so close to breaking through over the past several weeks. On Thursday night, they left no doubt. WOU rolled to an emphatic 3-0 win (25-17, 25-21, 25-22) over Seattle Pacific in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play inside New PE Gym.
WOU (3-15, 1-10 GNAC) tallied 36 kills on the night and ended up hitting .224, while holding Seattle Pacific (11-8, 7-5 GNAC) to a .128 clip and 21 errors. The Wolves came up with multiple hustle plays to keep rallies going and even when trailing in sets two and three, roared back to complete the sweep. The win over SPU is the first for the Wolves since Oct. 22, 2016 when they claimed a 3-1 win in Monmouth. Tonight’s win snapped a nine-game winning streak for the Falcons and it was the first sets won in a match against the Falcons for the Wolves since going five sets back in 2017 in Monmouth. SPU entered the week having just defeated both Alaska schools in Seattle, handing Alaska Anchorage their first conference loss of the season a week ago. It’s also the first win as interim head coach for Traci Stephenson.
“I am beyond proud of every single person in our WOU volleyball family. To get a three-set win over a very good Seattle Pacific program and our first conference win of the season feels amazing,” Stephenson said. “These athletes are determined fighters and continue to persevere. I love that I get to be a part of their story.”
There were many standout performances on the night with Isabel Hurliman leading the way with nine kills and 11 digs. She hit .318 on the night. Delaney Smith added seven kills and two blocks, while hitting .333. Lauren Smith and Emily Olson added five kills and Bella MacLellan hit .571 with four kills. Laney O’Neil dished out 18 assists, while Aubrey Stanton added 10. MacLellan led the way in blocks with three and along the back row, Sophie Matlock had 12 digs and O’Neil completed the double-double with 10 digs.
The Wolves came out fired up from the opening point and moved ahead 6-3 in the first set behind a double-block from Delaney Smith and Olson and then a kill from Delaney Smith. After the Falcons fought back to tie and take the lead at 14-13, it was all Wolves after that. Following a ball handling error tied the set, Hurliman and Olson tallied kills around another error by the Falcons for the 17-14 lead. With WOU still in front at 21-17, they closed the set strong winning the final four points with Lauren Smith picking up three kills around a service ace by Hurliman for the 25-17 first set victory.
WOU rode the momentum right into the second set quickly moving in front 4-1 and forcing an SPU timeout. Delaney Smith tallied a pair of kills during the strong start. SPU came back to even the set at nine and then WOU stretched the lead back out to two on a number of occasions, including 14-12 on a kill by Delaney Smith. The Falcons came back to take a late lead at 21-19, but the Wolves refused to go away. Out of a timeout, WOU closed on a 6-0 run to take the set. Olson started the run with a kill and around three attacking errors, Hurliman posted a kill and a service ace by Delaney Smith gave WOU the set at 25-21.
Early on in the third set, SPU held the edge looking at a 7-4 lead. The lead stretched to 10-6 before WOU came right back to within a point on a 3-0 run with MacLellan and Stanton tallying points. The Falcons used a 5-0 run to take a one-point lead and later move in front 19-13. That didn’t bother the Wolves, as they dug deep and got right back into the set with a 5-0 run. Madison Hornback started the rally with a kill and after a service ace by Kiana Pel, Hurliman added a kill around a pair of attacking errors that had SPU clinging to a 19-18 lead. The Falcons answered with the next two points, but a quick 3-0 run evened the set at 21 with Hurliman adding another kill around a few SPU errors. The Falcons would get their final point of the night at 22-21, as what was a theme of Thursday night was WOU closing sets strong. The third was no different as the Wolves finished on a 4-0 run to complete the sweep. Hurliman and Lauren Smith each had kills down the stretch for the 25-22 third set win and 3-0 match victory.
Hannah Hair led SPU with nine kills, Maddie Batiste added eight. Hair sent back four blocks, while Batist and Lindsay Rosenthal each had 11 digs. Emily Tulino had a team-high 17 assists.
Overall on the night, WOU finished with 36 kills, five service aces, five blocks, 34 assists and 53 digs.
WOU will look to make it two wins in a row when they host Montana State Billings this Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. inside New PE Gym. Saint Martin’s defeated Montana State Billings, 3-1, Thursday in Lacey.