The Westmont women’s volleyball team took care of business on Saturday rather easily, beating Golden State Athletic Conference bottom-dweller OUAZ in three sets by scores of 25-17, 25-17, 25-13 to finish the regular season and clinch a share of the conference title.
Despite earning a co-conference championship, the Warriors knew they missed out on a great opportunity to be outright champs after losing to Menlo last week despite holding two leads in the decisive fifth set.
“Obviously it feels good, but we are less than satisfied after what happened last week. I told the team in the huddle (postgame) to savor the moment but that they have to know that it’s a new season now,” Westmont coach Ruth McGolpin said.
Had Westmont been outright champions, it would have hosted the GSAC tournament next week. Instead, the team will travel to Menlo who, because of a tiebreaker, will host and be the top seed heading into the tournament.
Nonetheless, Westmont clinched its sixth GSAC championship in program history and its first since 2017, when the Warriors won both the regular-season title and the inaugural GSAC Women’s Volleyball Tournament.
Before 2016, Westmont had not won a conference championship since 1993. Now, the Warriors have won three of the last four GSAC titles since 2016, the same year Cassidy Rea made her first appearance in a Westmont uniform.
“I am just super blessed. (The three titles) were not just because of me, obviously, but the teams I was apart of were so special. We just have so much consistency and steadiness and they had it then and it made it easy for me to jump in and contribute when I could,” Rea said.
Now a senior, Rea donned her Warrior uniform for the last time at Murchison Gym on Saturday.
She capped off her home career with a game-high 13 kills on a very efficient .385 hitting clip.
“It was incredible. I am so thankful that I have had five setters in my career that have trusted me to get those kills and it’s just special,” Rea said.
Westmont played on Friday night which held the official senior night designation. Rea said she felt the emotion — so much so that she cried during the anthem — a lot more than because of the crowd and the fact that it was a night game — a more traditional time for volleyball.
That made Saturday a little more “anti-climatic” but she said it was still a special moment.
“(Friday) was super emotional and (Saturday) was more of a calm send-off,” Rea said.
“Getting that (the emotion) out of the way and just being able to come out here and play my last game in more of a normal setting was good.”
Rea said that she feels sad that she has to leave Westmont but also reflected on what these past four years meant to her.
“It’s really sad, but in a really good way. After four years, you have so many bonds, but you also have the tools to move on and show what you’ve learned. The sweet part is reflecting on how you’ve changed as a person maturity-wise, responsibility wise, discipline wise and how the people around you have impacted you. And the bitter part is realizing you have to leave that but the sweet part is at least you get to go out and use what you learned,” Rea said.
Despite it being her final home match, Rea is not ready for her season, in general, to be over. IN 2016 and 2017, Rea was apart of the Westmont teams that made it to the quarterfinals of the NAIA.
She said she believes in this teams’ ability to get back there and even make a run in GSAC tournament next week.
“We have had some inconsistent moments but we are a really good team and I believe we can show our best in these next matches,” Rea said.
In general, Saturday’s win for Westmont was never in any real doubt.
In the first set, up 13-12, Westmont used a 5-0 run to create some space and go up six in the frame. The Warriors would cruise to a set win from there.
In the second set, Westmont trailed 8-5 early, but then used a 10-2 run to take a 15-10 lead and would hold from there to take another set win.
Finally, in the third set, the Warriors were even at 4-4 and then outscored the Spirit 21-9 the rest of the way, to clinch the match with a 25-13 third set victory.
Junior outside hitter Hali Galloway had 11 kills while Brooklynn Cheney added 10.
Keelyn Kistner recorded 18 assists, while Sydny Dunn added 15. Lauren Friis led the defense with 13 digs, while Kistner and Cheney also reached double-digit dig counts with 11 and 10, respectively.
Overall, this season Westmont has been usually good but the team has had some bad moments such as last weeks’ Menlo loss. Coach McGolpin said she discipline will be key from here on out if the Warriors hope to make a deep playoff run.
“Our defense has always been primarily a good thing for us so we need to make sure that we continue to play tough defense and we need to make sure our services are strong like it has been all season long,” McGolpin said.
“There’s a plan for us and we’ve just got to display that and show that this is where we are meant to be.”
As the second seed, Westmont will have a first-round bye and will take on the winner of Friday’s match between the third seed and the sixth seed in the second semifinal on November 16.