Ruth McGolpin and Patti Cook share a special bond, one that was fostered on the beach, tending to both of their undying affection for the sport of volleyball.
Over the past four years, McGolpin took on the role of assisting Cook with the Westmont women’s volleyball team – with Cook posting a 190-65 record over nine seasons at the helm.
When Cook stepped aside last Fall, McGolpin was a natural choice to step in and take the reins.
But don’t think that McGolpin is simply a Cook clone, she intends to build upon her friend’s success, with her own twists.
“I’ve made changes to different things; organizationally, the defense changed, a new offensive system,” McGolpin said. “It’s more like me, my style of play. I was a setter, so this looks a bit more like me.”
And if the first 10 days of practice are any indication, the squad believes in the system.
“There’s no ball that hits the ground, they are getting after it,” McGolpin said.
The squad features nine returns, as well as five freshman that have McGolpin excited on two levels – fresh energy and depth.
At one point in the 2018 season, the squad was down to 10 players.
The initial 2019 roster has 14, allowing for more substituting and keeping players fresh throughout games and intense practices.
“It’s great to have a full bench, it’ll allow us to be more aggressive throughout matches,” McGolpin said.
A pair of juniors, libero Lauren Friis and Madison Morrison, will anchor the back row, with freshmen Keilani Mayo and Alexa Gatiss looking to make an immediate impact with their defensive capabilities.
Fris had a team-high 603 digs last season, while Morrison had 243.
Outside hitters Brooklynn Cheney and Hali Galloway will also factor into the defensive effort. Cheney led the Warriors in serve-reception percentage last season at .968, while Galloway had 351 kills.
Sydny Dunn returns as Westmont’s setter, coming off a season where she had 167 assists.
Playing in a 6-2 offensive scheme again this season (six hitters, two setters), Dunn will be joined by freshman Keelyn Kistner.
In the front row, two-time All-GSAC selection and lone senior Cassidy Rea returns as the right side hitter. Rea had 272 kills on 662 attempts last season. Joining Rea on the right side is redshirt sophomore Patty Kerman, who sat out last season with a knee injury.
Sophomore Kaylee Ivie will anchor the middle for the Warriors, playing in 33 of 34 matches as a freshman, tallying 114 kills and 82 blocks. Both Audrey Brown and Kendall Kenyon are expected to contribute offensively as well.
Westmont kicked off its season at the Hope International Summer Slam on Wednesday, sweeping UC Merced in three sets before falling to Embry-Riddle in four. The Warriors return to action today to face Montana Tech and Saint Francis (Ind.).
“I’ve talked to them about controlling our own game, focusing on what we can do each match,” McGolpin said. “We can’t control if they have a 6-foot-4 middle that can jump out of the gym. But we can control our effort and our focus.”
Westmont’s first home match will be at 7 p.m. on Aug. 27 against Antelope.