Westmont Volleyball (10-3, 4-1 GSAC) was pushed to five sets on Friday night, and in the end, Westmont prevailed over William Jessup (5-6, 2-3) to remain at the top of the GSAC standings. Westmont fell behind 1-0 and 2-1, but ultimately won a pair of matches with their backs against the wall to pull out the win in Murchison Gym.
“It was a good team win,” said Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin. “William Jessup did not do anything they have done in previous matches. They went with a bigger lineup, which we didn’t scout for, and looked completely different.
“I’m super proud of our team for fighting through it and adjusting on the fly.”
In the first set, the two sides played each other closely, with neither team taking more than a three-point advantage. Westmont’s largest lead of the set came midway through, when a kill from Jessie Terlizzi put the team up 17-14.
From there, Jessup quickly clawed back to tie the match at 18, keeping the score knotted through 21. Tied at 21, the home-Warriors committed a bad set, followed by a pair of attacking errors, allowing Jessup to claim a 24-21 lead.
Westmont made things interesting in the set’s final moments, but the lead proved to be insurmountable as a kill from William Jessup gave the road-Warriors a 25-23 win to open the match.
Westmont opened the second set with four answered kills and a service ace, causing Jessup to call a timeout as the home crowd let loose for the first time. However, the cheers quickly became tempered when Jessup responded with a 9-3 run to claim a 9-8 advantage.
The game of runs continued, however, with Westmont scoring six unanswered points to reclaim a 14-9 lead. Moments later, Phoebe Minch recorded a kill to stretch the lead to 17-11, forcing the road-team to call their final timeout.
Jessup did not down quietly in the second, causing McGolpin to use both of her timeouts as they trimmed the deficit to 22-19. Out of the timeout, a pair of Jessup errors followed by Sara Krueger’s fifth kill gave the home-Warriors a 25-20 win to tie the match.
In set three, Westmont and Jessup remained close into double-digits. With the score tied at 13, Jessup went on a 5-1 run to take an 18-14 advantage. As the set grew later, the lead remained at four, before growing to five at 21-16 and six at 24-18.
Moments later, a kill from Jessup’s Marina Gonzalez gave the road-Warriors a 25-19 win, and a 2-1 set advantage.
In the fourth set, Westmont came out of the gate hot, jumping out to a 9-4 lead after kills from Terlizzi and Lexi Malone capped off the run. From there, it was a matter of holding Jessup off in order to force a fifth set. The road-Warriors repeatedly trimmed the deficit to three, but each time the home-Warriors responded to keep Jessup at arm’s length.
After Jessup trimmed the lead to 14-11, Westmont got a kill from Minch and Ashley Boswell before a Jessup service error added to their total. When the Westmont lead stretched out to 17-12, William Jessup elected to call a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Westmont kept their foot on the gas pedal. Eventually, a kill from Alexis Dennick followed by Krueger’s eighth kill gave Westmont a 25-16 win, and forced a fifth and final set.
“Emotionally, we stayed consistent tonight,” said McGolpin. “Going into the fifth set, we had a planned attack to start with Lexi on that side. The mentality has to be to win that fifth set in chunks of five, so that was the goal going in.”
Excellent serving from Kaili Hashimoto and a pair of electric kills from Malone gave Westmont the first bit of momentum the set offered, with the home-Warriors taking a 5-2 lead.
Jessup momentarily got within a pair, but a kill from Terlizzi followed by a Jessup attacking error saw Westmont take an 8-4 advantage into a timeout. Out of the timeout, Jessup crept closer with a kill and a service ace, leading McGolpin to call a timeout up 8-6.
Westmont scored a pair quickly, to go up 10-7 as the anticipation began to grow. However, sparked by a trio of kills, Jessup went on to tie things at 10, causing McGolpin to call her final timeout.
Tied at 11, a service error from Jessup and a kill from Terlizzi gave Westmont a 13-11 lead, making it Jessup’s turn to call their final timeout.
A block from Malone and Terlizzi brought all in attendance to their feet, with Westmont one point from victory. Moments later, an attacking error from Jessup allowed the crowd to erupt for a 15-12 win, and a 3-2 match victory.
“I was proud of the way we battled through adversity tonight,” nodded McGolpin. “Again, no bit of their lineup was at all what we scouted. We stuck with it though and figured it out.
“Amongst others, I was proud of how Alexis Dennick came in and played. She hasn’t seen much action but she came in and had a couple big kills, and a few blocks as well.”
Minch led Westmont with 14 kills, while Terlizzi and Malone added 12 and 11, respectively. Keelyn Kistner led Westmont with 24 assists, 23 digs, and also a trio of service aces.
Malone and Boswell each recorded 4 blocks, while Dennick contributed with a pair as well.
“Our defensive effort was huge tonight,” began McGolpin. “Keelyn was fantastic on defense, and set really well as well. We got key blocks when we needed, and Jessie was on fire again. Our outside hitters really carried the load offensively.
“Defensively, that’s where we thrived tonight.”
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.