PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers nearly ended a seven-match losing streak to the Pacific Lutheran Lutes on Friday night. After winning the first two sets, the Pios dropped the next two in palindromic fashion before the Lutes claimed the fifth for a 21-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-13 victory at Pamplin Sports Center.
The Pioneers put together a .324 hitting percentage in the first set and were led by Kendall Malone's five kills on 12 attempts. Isabel Artiaga and Ka'anelaokapu'uwai Pakaki-Pias added three apiece in the opener. Pakaki-Pias finished with 13 kills in the match.
Danielle Skibiel had a season-high 26 kills for the Lutes, who hit .293 in the fourth set.
The fifth game featured five ties and several leads by the Pioneers against the defending Northwest Conference champions.
In the second game, Lewis & Clark built a 13-7 lead after running away with the opening set. Malone had seven kills through the Pioneers' first 38 points. PLU rallied back to take a one-point lead, 17-16, before the Pios controlled again during Blythe Ballesteros' serve to win four-straight points. Michelle McGinn, Jenna Timmerman and Malone had kills down the stretch.
"We were riding the high," Makena Ohlmaier said, who finished with a .208 hitting percentage and four aces, a new career high. "We were playing 100 percent, and we played for each other. We just can't let up."
The Lutes had five different competitors with at least two kills in a 25-23 third-set win and extended the match. Malone had her second five-kill game in the third for Lewis & Clark.
Pacific Lutheran forced a fifth set after winning the fourth, 25-21. Skibiel had her third set with at least five kills at that point in the match.
Lewis & Clark (7-7, 3-2 NWC) fell behind 4-1 in the final game, but worked back to tie the set five separate times and gained three, one-point leads. Skibiel landed kills and put the Lutes in control 14-12, and despite one more kill by Pakaki-Pias, the Pios lost.
"This is the best I've ever seen a Lewis & Clark volleyball team play," head coach Emily Hayes said. "Pacific Lutheran stepped up a ton and passed very well. There is a reason why we fought with them until the very end, and we showed our best tonight."
- Lewis & Clark was vying for their first win over the Lutes (11-6, 3-1 NWC) since 2015
- In addition, the Pioneers have not swept PLU since at least before 2007
- Malone finished with 19 kills on .155 hitting and 17 digs, her seventh double-double of the season
- Ohlmaier and Pakaki-Pias had a team-high four blocks apiece, while Ohlmaier added 10 kills, one shy of her career high
- McGinn was one under her career most for assists with 43 on a night where she hit .444 with five kills, 14 digs and two blocks
- Kayla Valdez had 21 digs, one of five Pios with double-digit totals; Ballesteros added 10
The home-heavy start to the Pioneers schedule now shifts to the road as Lewis & Clark plays seven of the next eight away from Portland. The Pios go to Whitman and Whitworth next weekend.