BY RYAN ROGERS, Staff Reporter
The Central Washington University women’s volleyball team was unable to cash in on key opportunities, including a set-point situation in the third set, and fell to the Northwest Nazarene Crusaders, 12-25, 25-21, 26-24, 25-21 in Nampa, Idaho on Saturday night.
The Wildcats (9-7 Great Northwest Athletic Conference, 13-11 overall) are now in fifth place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The Crusaders (12-4 GNAC, 16-6 overall) remain in the third place in the standings.
Sophomore outside hitter and middle blocker Linden Firethorne led the Wildcats with 17 kills.
The night started well for Central, as they took the first set 25-12. The Wildcats clinched set point on a kill by sophomore outside hitter Rachel Hanses. Hanses finished the match with 12 kills.
After losing the second set, the Wildcats had the Crusaders in a set-point situation that would have given them a two sets to one lead in the match. But, a couple of errors by Central gave NNU the third set.
In the deciding set, the Wildcats got the first point on a kill by Firethorne. Unfortunately for Central, that would be its last lead of the night.
The Wildcats stayed close to the Crusaders throughout the final set, but the Crusaders earned the match.
Northwest Nazarene was led by the offensive tandem of Andrea Terpstra and Elayna Rice, who combined for 36 of the Crusaders’ 53 kills. Terpstra added seven blocks and Rice had a double-double of 16 kills and 13 digs.
Sophomore middle blocker Kaitlin Quirk had nine kills and nine total blocks for the Wildcats.
Junior libero and defensive specialist Kaely Kight led all players with 27 digs.
The Wildcats, despite the loss, are still very much alive for the NCAA Divison II Tournament.
Central has two home matches remaining to close the regular season. On Thursday night, the Wildcats take on Saint Martin’s and on Saturday night they square off against Western Oregon. Both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. at Nicholson Pavilion.