The Westmont volleyball team (12-8) snapped a three-match winning streak on Friday night, after falling to Saint Katherine (12-4) in five sets.
After dropping the first two sets 25-18 and 25-23, Westmont responded with a 25-23 win in set three and a 25-19 win in set four.
Then, after Westmont led the fifth set 13-12, Saint Katherine finished the night on a three-point run to win it 15-13.
“For some reason,” said Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin, “there’s just this roadblock we can’t seem to overcome. It’s mental more than anything, and the frustration levels are high, not just for the coaching staff but for our returners too.”
In the first set, Westmont initially trailed 6-2, with the deficit growing to 10-5 before McGolpin called her first timeout. At that point, the club had already committed a pair of attacking errors as well as a service and reception error.
Out of the timeout, the deficit quickly grew to 15-7, and the Warriors never got back within less than five from that point on. Eventually, the Firebirds took the first set by a score of 25-18.
The lone bright spot in the first set was Lexi Malone, who collected five kills in six attempts.
“Lexi played well,” noted McGolpin. “At times they put triple blocks on her but she still finished with the highest hitting percentage of the night and kept us in it.”
In set two, the two sides came out the gate in similar fashion, with strong attacking leading the way. The two teams were tied 5-5 before Westmont went on a three-point run to take its largest lead of the night so far. The Firebirds did not let the Warriors run away with things however, as the game was knotted at 10 following an attacking error by Malone.
Consecutive kills by Malone and Jessie Terlizzi followed by an ace from Phoebe Minch gave Westmont a 16-13 lead. However, Saint Katherine followed soon-after with a three-point swing of their own to tie things at 18. Then, an attacking error by Addie Paul put the visiting Firebirds up 20-19 going into a Westmont timeout.
Saint Katherine then won two of the next three points to claim a 22-20 advantage before Westmont tied things up on a service error and a kill from Malone. Moments later, a kill by Breann DeLoye put the Firebirds up 24-23 and a block by Makenzie Nutting gave Saint Katherine a 25-23 win and 2-0 set advantage.
In set three, the two sides traded blows to a 10-10 tie before Saint Katherine rode a kill and an attacking error to a 12-10 advantage. Down 13-11, a service error followed by a kill from Sydny Dunn tied things at 13 momentarily, before Saint Katherine collected another pair of kills in a row to claim a 15-13 advantage.
Out of a Westmont timeout, Saint Katherine’s lead quickly expanded to 18-14 before Westmont displayed some resiliency and began chipping away. Down 20-16, the Warriors went on a three-point run to force a Saint Katherine timeout.
Out of the timeout, Saint Katherine’s lead was immediately built back to 23-20, before Westmont responded with a three-point run to tie things at 23 following a pair of Firebird attacking errors.
Then, a service ace from Lilian Reininga followed by a block from Taylor Distelberg gave the Warriors a 25-23 win to stave off defeat and force a fourth set.
In set four, thanks to excellent serving from Alexa Gatiss, the Warriors jumped out to an 8-4 lead ahead of Saint Katherine’s first timeout. However, once again, Saint Katherine remained relentless and tied things at 11 later on.
Then, a four-point run sparked by a pair of kills from Minch built the Warrior lead back up to 15-11. From there, the Warriors rolled. Westmont continuously marched towards 25 while holding off the Firebirds, ultimately forcing a fifth set with a 25-19 win.
The sprint to 15 began with a kill from Taylor Distelberg followed by another from Audrey Brown, allowing the Warriors to maintain possession of momentum. Ivie continued her contribution with a kill and another block to build Westmont’s lead to 7-4, but Saint Katherine brought the run to a halt with a four-point run to take an 8-7 lead.
“Regardless of outcome, Taylor and Ivie both came in and did a really good job,” noted McGolpin. “When things were going well, they were very much at the center of it.”
Later, Malone’s 13th kill of the match tied the game at 10, and her 14th kill gave Westmont a 13-12 advantage going into Saint Katherine’s final timeout.
Then, following the timeout, Nutting collected a kill to tie things at 13, a block to give her club a 14-13 advantage, and a kill to give Saint Katherine a 15-13 victory.
“We did a good job getting back in it,” McGolpin said. “But we could have very easily been swept all together. We knew they were going to the same attacker and at the end of the night we just weren’t putting our thinking caps on. I commend Sarah Murray, our assistant coach, who takes hours to make scouting reports for us. When it comes down to it though, it’s up to us to use them.”
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.