PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers rolled in the third set after two hard-fought games to open the Northwest Conference season with a win on Friday night against the Willamette Bearcats. A wide margin in the third set made the final 25-21, 29-27, 25-15.
Rallying back smaller deficits in the first two sets, the Pios lunged out to a 16-9 lead in the third and wrapped up the match in straight sets.
Michelle McGinn had another errorless game while sharing 27 assists to go with nine digs. Kendall Malone had eight of her nine kills in the first two sets, while Pakaki-Pias landed six of hers in the final set.
"We did a really good job of executing all of the things we learned in practice," McGinn said. "We have the same goals and we pushed together tonight."
Third on the team in kills while leading in assists and hitting percentage, McGinn was especially complimentary of Ballesteros' debut in the libero jersey.
"Dig or die defense and giving everything to her team," McGinn said. "She was amazing."
Lewis & Clark was over .100 better hitting than Willamette (2-9, 1-1 NWC) in both of the first two sets. Somewhat surprisingly the margin was in favor of the Bearcats when the Pioneers won the third set by 10.
Instead, the Pios capitalized on their smallest amount of errors, 14, since their third match of the season on Aug. 31.
"This whole week, we emphasized the balance between fun and focus and it showed we were balanced tonight," Ballesteros said. "Michelle did an amazing job being aggressive on the court and controlling how we played."
- Makena Ohlmaier competed in her first match since Aug. 31 and had six kills, three blocks and a .357 hitting percentage
- Malone (14) and Kelsey Parker (10) also had at least 10 digs
- Grace McCullough made her first career stat
- Emma Ehlers finished with a career-high four blocks
- The Pioneers held Willamette without a double-digit hitter
- The Bearcats were led by Jennifer Lane's nine kills
The Pios continue play on Saturday at Pacific. The match starts at 6 p.m.