Westmont Women’s Volleyball (6-2) entered the final day of the Labor Day Classic on Saturday and came away with two more wins and a fresh wave of confidence. In the morning, Westmont defeated Grand View (Iowa) in four sets, and in the evening, Westmont swept #12 Bellevue, the tournament host.
“We announced two weeks ago that we wanted to go 4-0 at Fullerton,” said Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin, whose team shared four games in last week’s tournament. “After our last game, I told the team, ‘God had a plan. This was the week we were supposed to go 4-0’.
“I’m super happy with this team. It was incredible teamwork all day. Today we had the toughest matches we’ve had so far. One team received votes and the other was among the top 15 teams in the country. We just played amazing.
In the first game of the day, the Warriors faced the Grand View Vikings (1-7), the team that eliminated them at the NAIA National Tournament in April 2021. Against the Vikings, the Warriors came out strong and took control early.
In the first two sets, the Warriors beat the Vikings 50-28, winning the first set 25-11 and the next with a 25-17 win. In the third set, Grand View successfully fended off a late Westmont run to force a fourth set with a 25-23 win.
In the fourth set, the Vikings gave the Warriors everything they could handle, never letting Westmont take a more than four-point lead. Twice, late in the set, Grand View managed to even the score, like late when they tied things up at 21.
However, while the Vikings could equalize the Warriors, Westmont never trailed during the set. Eventually, Jessie Terlizzi’s 12th kill of the match ended it with a 25-23 win.
In addition to Terlizzi’s 12 kills, Lexi Malone and Phoebe Minch each had 13. Malone also led the Warriors with five blocks, while Kaili Hashimoto had a career-high 25 digs. Keelyn Kistner registered 28 assists, while Alexa Shiner added 18.
“Kaili Hashimoto was amazing,” McGolpin said. “Our serve was great, our defense was stellar and we kept going, start to finish. As a team, our efforts have been incredible.
In Game 2, Westmont faced the Bellevue Bruins (5-4), a team that advanced to the NAIA Quarterfinals last season.
In the first set, the Warriors put on their most relentless display of the tournament. While the opener was a back-and-forth between the two teams, the Bruins eventually built a 21-16 advantage. Then, kills from Malone and Terlizzi ended a five-point streak that tied the game at 21.
Moments later, the Warriors were on their last breath with the score 24-23 in favor of Bellevue. Again, however, Terlizzi came out on top, this time tying the set at 24 with his fifth kill of the set.
With the game tied at 25, the Bruins made a service error and an offensive error to give the Warriors a decisive 27-25 win.
The story of the second set came after Bellevue initially led 6-5. From there, the Warriors went on a shocking 10-0 run to take a 15-6 lead. Bellevue eventually came back on the board to make it 15-7, but the Warriors responded with another three-point swing to go up 18-7.
Bellevue fought to make things interesting late in the set, but in the end, Sara Krueger’s second kill gave Westmont a 25-20 win and a 2-0 lead.
In the third set, Westmont was ready to start planning his happy flight. Once again, it was a mid-game run that gained momentum, this time after Bellevue led 9-8. On that occasion, Krueger recorded another pair of kills on a 6-0 streak that gave Westmont a 14-9 lead.
With the score at 17-13, kills from Terlizzi, Ashley Boswell and Taylor Distelberg, along with an ace from Hashimoto, capped a final run for the Warriors who were leading 21-13 at the time.
Moments later, the night ended with a 25-17 win to cap a 3-0 sweep and 4-0 weekend in Omaha.
“After the game we kind of did a mosh-pit jump together in the middle of the field,” laughed a proud McGolpin. “We played consistently, having had to come from behind in the first set, and then from there we stayed balanced the rest of the way. They earned the right to celebrate afterwards.
In the Bellevue game, Terlizzi led the Warriors with 10 kills, while Malone contributed with eight and Krueger had six. Minch had five service aces, Kistner led the club with 17 assists and Hashimoto again led the way with 14 digs.
“There was no one that stood out to me because everyone who stepped on the pitch was superb,” McGolpin said. “Sara Krueger had a few key blocks, and Jessie was our fire today. Overall, we were smart with our offense as well. We definitely had them out of whack.
The Warriors return home Sunday morning and then, with high hopes, begin preparing for their Golden State Athletic Conference schedule. The Warriors have their home opener at Murchison Gym next Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. when they host The Master’s in their first GSAC game of 2022.
“A new season has begun,” McGolpin said. “This tournament was the highlight of our pre-GSAC schedule, and now it’s time to move on to the next part of our year and focus on the conference.”
Jacob Norling is the Sports Information Assistant at Westmont College.
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