Adding to the trophy case
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For the second year in a row, the Westmont women’s volleyball team went undefeated in Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) play. However this year, for the first time, there was a GSAC Tournament, with the winner automatically qualifying for the NAIA National Tournament.
The tournament was hosted at The Master’s University. Because of Westmont’s number one seed, the Warriors earned a first round bye that put them straight into the semifinals.
Westmont started off by knocking out Menlo in four sets. Advancing to the championship match that same evening, the Warriors emerged victorious after five brutal sets (25-14, 33-35, 24-26, 28-26, 15-8). The second, third, and fourth sets were the most electrifying of Westmont’s season, and some of the most tightly contested in recent school history.
In the first set, Westmont looked like its normal selves, easily winning the set, 25-14. However, as the match continued, Vanguard began to fire back. After playing the Warriors twice already in the season, the Lions were able to capitalize on their extensive knowledge of Westmont’s playing style and the match quickly intensified. Vanguard was able to put their defense to action, and despite eight set-point serves by the Warriors in the second set, the Lions claimed the set 35-33.
It was a similar story in the third set, as Vanguard capitalized on an attack error in the critical final points, giving the Lions a 2-1 advantage. Westmont’s morale was low, but Head Coach Patti Cook said, “I am so proud of the grit that we showed through the match, but especially in the fourth set when we were down by so much. It was a thing of beauty to see the team regain hope and the belief that we could come back and win despite the odds. I couldn’t think of a better segway into the
With the Warriors down 16-9 in the fourth set, victory seemed a long ways off. However, the Warriors rallied behind clutch kills from Samantha Neely and Cassidy Rea, blocks from Libby Dahlberg, and most importantly, exceptional serving from Lindsay Paulo.
Westmont eventually worked its way back up to 21-20, then tying it at 22 all, then 25-24, then to 28-26, giving Westmont an even set score and a boost of confidence, which it used to steamroll the final set, 15-8.
“Everyone played with a lot of hustle and heart, which lead to some incredible volleyball,” said Neely.
Westmont earned an Opening Round bye and advances straight to the NAIA National Tournament Final Site in Sioux City, Iowa, which will take place Nov. 28-Dec. 2.