Nov 08, 2019

Bruins Downed In Slugfest Against Top-Tier Pirates

A Winning Tradition

  • 2 NCCAA National Championships (1984, 1987)
  • 1 NAIA National Tournament (1998)
  • 1 Women's Conference of Independent Colleges Championship (1982)
  • 1 Northwest Conference Championship (1998)
  • 2 NCCAA National Coaches of the Year
  • 2 NAIA District Coaches of the Year
  • 2 Northwest Conference Player of the Year
  • 2 Northwest Conference Coaches of the Year
  • 1 Northwest Confernce Libero of the Year
  • 13 All-Americans 
  • 5 Academic All-Americans
  • 50 All-NWC Athletes

By Josh Nutter

NEWBERG --- The George Fox volleyball team fell in a five-set battle with the Northwest Conference's top team, Whitworth, on Friday night at Miller Gym in front of a rowdy, packed house. The Pirates (20-5, 14-1 NWC) were ultimately too much for the Bruins (12-12, 9-6 NWC) in a clash between two teams riding long hot streaks. George Fox had won eight in a row and Whitworth were winners of seven straight going into the match which the Pirates won in five, 25-14, 23-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-10.


The Bruins dealt Whitworth its last loss in Spokane, and the Pirates avenged that loss behind strong efforts from key players Iris Tikhonov with 21 kills and Emiko Kahler with 17. The Pirates took the first set 25-14. Tikhonov had seven kills and the Pirates never trailed in the set.

George Fox settled in and claimed a breathtaking second set 25-23 as the home crowd erupted time and time again as the Bruins began to punch their way back into the bout between the conference's top two teams. Liv Alexander had four kills and a massive block to put the Bruins ahead for good in the frame.

The third set was a return to form for the Pirates, who calmly collected a 25-15 win to go up 2-1 behind Tikhonov and Kahler.

The Bruins refused to go away in set number four, as they scratched out a 25-20 win to knot up the match at two sets each. George Fox gained major momentum on a 6-0 run with Sophia Davies serving. Whitworth used both of its timeouts during the run as the Bruins began to run away with the set. The set was a team effort for the Bruins as Aryah Zeller had four kills, Paige O'Rear added three more, and Sophia Lawrence had back-to-back aces to send the match to a deciding set.

The Bruins were unable to hang on in the final set after falling behind early. They committed seven errors and Kahler and Tikhonov were able to capitalize offensively for the Pirates as Whitworth took the final set 15-10.

Top Performers

The match was nothing short of riveting as both squads battled for five complete sets. Liv Alexander displayed leadership and poise for the Bruins and she ultimately came out with the team-high 15 kills. O'Rear added 14. The Bruins' service was also a bright spot on the night as they had a season-high nine aces as Laney Search, Sophia Lawrence, and Skylar Paul each had three in the contest. Search added 43 assists on the night.

What It Means

The Bruins fell out of second place in the NWC and are now in a tie for fourth at 9-6 in conference play. The Pirates are still on top at 14-1, though it should be noted that the Bruins own Whitworth's only conference loss.

What Happens Next

The Bruins will host the Blues of Whitman on Saturday night for senior night. Emily Carson will be honored prior to the game as part of the Bruins' Senior Weekend.