The Westmont volleyball team (15-8, 9-2) could not avoid a fifth set for the 11th time this season, but ultimately prevailed to defeat Life Pacific (13-7, 6-5) 3-2 on Saturday night in a home game.
Westmont dropped game one before taking a 2-1 lead after three sets, but after a fourth-set blowout in favor of Life Pacific, it came down to a fifth set that saw Westmont pull away with a 15-11 victory.
“That’s a solid team over there,” Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin said. “They’ve pushed us to five sets on both occasions now, and we knew coming in they were going to give all we could handle. They’ve got solid hitters and a consistent attack, and they don’t make it easy by any means.”
In set one, Life Pacific jumped out to a 9-3 advantage thanks to five early attacking errors from Westmont. Hannah Caddow’s third kill of the match gave the Warriors a 13-6 advantage, causing McGolpin to call her first timeout of the night.
Westmont began cutting away at the deficit, at one point pulling within a pair at 18-16, but Life Pacific elected to not call timeout and instead let the pace of the game continue. Westmont stayed within a pair up until the score was 20-18, but then the road club ended the set on a 5-1 run to claim set one 25-19.
During the first set, the Warriors committed eight attacking errors and posted a hitting percentage of .047.
“There wasn’t a whole lot that needed to be said,” noted McGolpin, looking back on set one. “We needed to take a breath and focus on our passing. We knew if we could dial in our passing and serve to the right people, we’d find the success we were looking for.”
In set two, Westmont scored the first five points thanks to excellent serving from Keelyn Kistner, and looked strong out of the gate from there.
By the time Life Pacific took their first timeout, Phoebe Minch’s third kill of the night had given Westmont a 12-5 lead.
Out of the timeout, the Warriors kept their foot on the gas.
Another three kills from Minch sparked a 7-2 run for the Warriors that saw the club take a 19-7 lead into Life’s final timeout. Lexi Malone made her presence felt with a pair of kills late, and Audrey Brown’s fourth kill of the night sealed a 25-11 victory to tie things up.
In set three, the two sides began in a 4-4 tie before Westmont went on a 4-1 run led by Jessie Terlizzi to claim an 8-5 advantage. Westmont maintained their three-point advantage over Life for the first half of the set, which led to Terlizzi’s sixth kill of the match giving Westmont a 14-10 lead going into a Life Pacific timeout.
Terlizzi collected another pair of kills, and Patty Kerman joined in on the action as well during the next stretch of action, as the home-Warriors maintained a 19-15 lead going into the road club’s final timeout.
Out of the timeout, Brown contributed with another three kills and the Warriors kept the early momentum alive to earn a 25-21 win, and 2-1 set advantage.
At the end of three sets, Brown had a team-high 10 kills.
“Audrey had an incredible night,” McGolpin said. “She was ripping the ball, and the numbers displayed that. She was hitting lines, she was hitting angles, and she just crushed a couple balls when we needed her to. She was awesome.”
In set four, two sides were neck-and-neck until the game reached double-digits. Then the road club went on a four-point run to take a 15-11 lead going into a Westmont timeout. The lead ultimately grew to an eight-point swing out of the timeout, with Life Pacific claiming a 19-11 advantage before Westmont could stop the bleeding.
Eventually, Life Pacific capped off an explosive fourth set with a 25-16 win to force set five.
After the two sides began set five in a 3-3 tie, consecutive errors by Life Pacific gave Westmont a 5-3 lead, causing the road club to quickly call timeout. Out of the timeout, Westmont proceeded to double their lead thanks to kills by Minch and Kerman. The kills built the Westmont lead to 8-4, forcing Life Pacific to burn their final timeout early.
With Westmont up 10-5, Life Pacific made the home-Warriors sweat with a four-point run to pull within one. Clinging on to an 11-10 lead, Westmont scored four of the final five points of the evening, surviving the fifth set with a 15-11 win, and 3-2 match victory.
The Warriors recorded eight kills without a single error in set five.
“We’ve been working hard at learning how to win in these situations,” noted McGolpin. “There was a thunderous block from Audrey and Lexi that really felt like the dagger late, and it happened after a questionable call didn’t go our way. I was so proud to see them respond with a stand rather than let the emotion get to them.”
Brown and Minch led Westmont with 12 kills each, while Malone added 10 of her own. Terlizzi, who ended the match with a kill, collected nine.
“I want to commend both Jessie and Phoebe,” said McGolpin. “I thought they played a really key role for us today, and it showed in the box score. Whenever we needed them, they answered the call, and they really led the offensive charge for us.”
Malone was also a key factor at the net defensively, as she recorded a game-high eight blocks. Sara Krueger contributed with five blocks as well.
Westmont ultimately out-blocked Life Pacific 25-13.
“Our blocking was excellent,” said McGolpin. “It is something we work on every single day in practice, and it was really nice to see it pay off big time in this one. Sara Krueger stepped up when we needed her to, and Lexi of course had some great blocks as well. Those numbers are impressive.”
The club continues their long home stand Friday night, when the team hosts Hope International in Murchison Gym at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at athletics.westmont.edu/tickets.
“We just have to keep winning,” said McGolpin. “It’s not getting any easier, because we know when people come to play us they come with their best effort possible, because of the success we’ve had. We have to keep matching that energy.”
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.