Westmont Women’s Volleyball (6-2) competed in the final day of the Labor Day Classic on Saturday, and left with two more wins and a new wave of confidence. In the morning, Westmont defeated Grand View (Iowa) in four sets, and in the evening, Westmont swept #12 Bellevue, the tournament host.
“We put on our goal-board two weeks ago that we wanted to go 4-0 in Fullerton,” said Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin, whose team split four games in last week’s tournament. “After our final match, I told the team that ‘God had a plan. This was the week we were meant to go 4-0’.
“I am super stoked on this team. It was an incredible team effort for the entire day. Today, we had the toughest matches we have had so far. One team was receiving votes, and the other was a top-15 team in the nation. We just played incredible.”
In the first match of the day the Warriors clashed with the Grand View Vikings (1-7), the team that eliminated them in the NAIA National Tournament in April of 2021. Against the Vikings, the Warriors came out swinging and took control early.
In the first two sets, the Warriors outscored the Vikings 50-28, winning the first set 25-11 and following it up with a 25-17 win. In the third set, Grand View successfully fought off a late run by Westmont to force a fourth set with a 25-23 win.
In the fourth set, the Vikings gave the Warriors all they could handle, never letting Westmont build more than a four-point lead. Twice, late in the set, Grand View was able to tie the score, as late when they knotted things at 21.
However, while the Vikings could tie the Warriors, Westmont never once trailed during the set. Eventually, Jessie Terlizzi’s 12th kill of the match ended it with a 25-23 win.
Along with Terlizzi’s 12 kills, Lexi Malone and Phoebe Minch each collected 13. Malone also led the Warriors with five blocks, while Kaili Hashimoto recorded a career-high 25 digs. Keelyn Kistner recorded 28 assists, while Alexa Shiner added 18 of her own.
“Kaili Hashimoto was amazing,” reflected McGolpin. “Our serving was great, our defense was stellar, and we just kept at it, from start to finish. As a team, our effort was incredible.”
In the second match, Westmont went up against the Bellevue Bruins (5-4), a team that advanced to the NAIA Quarterfinals last season.
In the first set, the Warriors put on their most relentless display of the tournament. While the opening game was back-and-forth between the two squads, the Bruins eventually built a 21-16 advantage. Then, kills from Malone and Terlizzi book-ended a five-point run that tied the game at 21.
Moments later, the Warriors were down to their last breath with the score 24-23 in favor of Bellevue. Again, however, Terlizzi came up clutch, this time tying the set at 24 with her fifth kill of the set.
With the game tied at 25, the Bruins committed a service error and an attacking error to give the Warriors a tone-setting 27-25 come-from-behind win.
The story of the second set came after Bellevue initially led 6-5. From there, the Warriors went on a shell-shocking 10-0 run to take a 15-6 lead. Bellevue finally got on the board again to make the score 15-7, but the Warriors responded with another three-point swing to go up 18-7.
Bellevue fought to make things interesting by the end of the set, but ultimately, Sara Krueger’s second kill of the set gave Westmont a 25-20 win, and a 2-0 set lead.
In the third set, Westmont was ready to start planning their happy flight. Once again, it was a run partway through the game that swung momentum, this time after Bellevue led 9-8. On this occasion, Krueger recorded another pair of kills during a 6-0 run that put Westmont up 14-9.
With the score 17-13, kills by Terlizzi, Ashley Boswell, and Taylor Distelberg, along with an ace from Hashimoto, capped one final run for the Warriors who at that point led 21-13.
Moments later, the night ended with a 25-17 win to cap off a 3-0 sweep, and a 4-0 weekend in Omaha.
“After the match, we did some sort of mosh-pit jump together in the middle of the court,” chuckled a proud McGolpin. “We played steady, after having to come from behind in set one, and then from there, we stayed level-headed the rest of the way. They earned the right to celebrate after.”
In the Bellevue match, Terlizzi led the Warriors with 10 kills, while Malone contributed with eight, and Krueger tallied six. Minch collected five service aces, Kistner led the club with 17 assists, and Hashimoto again led the way with 14 digs.
“There’s no one that stood out to me, because everyone that stepped foot on the court was superb,” said McGolpin. “Sara Krueger had a couple key blocks, and Jessie was our fire today. Overall, we were smart with our attacking as well. We definitely had them out-of-sorts.”
The Warriors will fly home Sunday morning, and then, with high hopes, begin preparing for their Golden State Athletic Conference schedule. The Warriors have their home-opener in Murchison Gym next Saturday night at 7:00 p.m., when they host The Master’s in their first GSAC game of 2022.
“A new season has begun,” said McGolpin. “This tournament was the culmination of our pre-GSAC schedule, and now it’s time to move on to the next part of our year, and get focused on conference.”
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.