By JACOB NORLING
WESTMONT COLLEGE WRITER
Editor’s note: Jacob Norling is a sports information assistant at Westmont College.
After getting swept on Friday night, No. 9 Westmont (4-2) pushed No. 15 Corban (Ore.) (6-0) to five sets on Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Westmont volleyball team, Corban won a decisive fifth set and swept the weekend series.
“It was definitely better than yesterday,” said Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin. “However in the end it boils down not to physical talent, but to mental strength. These matches are not a sprint, they are a marathon. We have to keep improving and a lot of that improvement needs to be done in between the ears.”
In the first set, Westmont’s offense was relentless in its attempt to hang with Corban, keeping the game tied through the first 12 points. Of the 12, five of the points were due to kills by Phoebe Minch. Eventually, Corban got breathing room following an ace by Ryle Troutman and two kills by Avari Ridgway. Corban carried a 15-12 lead going into Westmont’s first timeout.
Westmont scored four of the first six points coming out of the timeout and pulled within one at 17-16, but again Corban went on a short run to stretch the lead to 20-17. However, Westmont would not go away, eventually tying things at 23 on Addie Paul’s fourth kill of the set.
Out of a timeout, Corban scored twice consecutively on a kill and a bad set to win their fourth consecutive set in Santa Barbara.
Westmont came out with a vengeance in the second set, jumping out to a 9-1 lead. At one point Corban battled back within three at 11-8, but a Westmont five-point run followed to reclaim a commanding 16-8 lead.
Westmont was not going to be denied, eventually winning the second set 25-15, thanks to multiple kills by Paul, Minch, Patty Kerman and Jessie Terlizzi.
In the third set it was Corban chasing Westmont in the beginning, as the Warriors maintained a one-point lead for the majority of the set’s first half. Then, kills by Paul and Terlizzi capped off a run that widened the Westmont lead to 16-12.
A kill by Taylor Distelberg gave the club a 20-13 lead, its largest of the day, and Westmont was able to hold off a late Corban run for a 25-20 set victory. Westmont’s three most reliable veteran attackers were at their best during the set, with Terlizzi adding four kills, and Minch and Kerman notching three each.
“Tough serving was key in sets two and three” pointed out McGolpin. “We changed up our blocking scheme as well and that led to some results for us. Plus, our communication was much better in those two games. Along with that, I think we believed in ourselves a little bit more.”
Four Westmont attacking errors led to an early run by Corban in set four, one that saw the Oregon club take a 9-4 lead. The early run for Corban never seemed to stop, as they took set four 25-12 to force a fifth set. Corban’s Rylee Troutman, Sarena Bartley, and Ally Tow all collected four kills during the set.
“That fourth set was never competitive,” McGolpin said. “In a set where you are already down a ton, we have to just start setting our middles. In sets like that, where there is no risk, no reward, you have to throw your middles some bones.”
Westmont and Corban quickly began throwing their best punches at each other to begin set five. The two clubs remained tied at seven points apiece. Unfortunately for Westmont, four more attacking errors allowed Corban’s lead to quickly grow out of each. The final blow came on Troutman’s game-high 19th kill, giving Corban a 15-10 win in the fifth set.
“Mental preparation will be key moving forward,” said McGolpin. “We need to tweak some areas and have our players learn a different defense amongst other things in the near future.”
“Our training camp was so short. We brought our players back late because of how late our season ended last year. We now have to use the time we do have to keep working and fine tune the things we can control like discipline and grit.”
Minch led Westmont with 13 kills, while Paul and Terlizzi each had nine. Minch and libero Kaili Hashimoto shared a team-high 16 kills, while Sydny Dunn posted a game-high 21 assists.
The Warriors have a week of practice ahead of them before flying out to Bellevue, Neb., for a four-game tournament beginning on Sept. 3. All four teams Westmont will face in Nebraska are currently ranked in the top-25 of the NAIA.