Volleyball Claims GSAC Championship

Submitted by: Ron Smith - October 29th, 2016


Libby Dahlberg

Libby Dahlberg
Photo by Brad Elliott

For the first time since 1993, Westmont Volleyball (29-0, 14-0 GSAC) has claimed the Golden State Athletic Conference Championship. The feat was accomplished by a sweep of Vanguard (25-19, 25-20, 25-13) in front of a boisterous home crowd in Murchison Gymnasium.

With two games remaining in the GSAC season, the Warriors are three games ahead of both #19 Biola (21-9, 11-3) and The Master’s (19-10, 11-3).

“I so proud of this team and what they have accomplished so far,” said Westmont head coach Patti Cook. “It shows that they have worked hard, that they have stayed hungry, that they have stayed focus. We haven’t let success get to our heads, but have wanted to do our best in every single game. They definitely deserve this this year.”

The Warriors have two matches remaining in the regular season, both on the road. Next Friday, Westmont will take on The Master’s in Santa Clarita. Then on Saturday, the Warriors will wrap up the 2016 GSAC season in Fullerton with a match against Hope International (11-12, 5-7).

Because the Warriors are expected to receive a bye in the Opening Round of the NAIA National Tournament, Westmont will not play again until pool play begins on November 29 at the National Tournament final site in Sioux City, Iowa.

In tonight’s game, the Warriors began to take control in the middle of the first set. With the score tied at 14 apiece, Westmont went on an 8-1 run that included kills by Mila Maricic, and Jessica McCann. Amy Buffham served for five points during the run.

The second set stayed close even longer. After the score reached an 18-18 tie, a kill by Sam Neely, a block by Libby Dahlberg and Cassidy Rea and a kill by Taylor Beckman put the Warriors up 21-18. After a mishandled ball by the Warriors, Dahlberg and Rea closed the roof again, Beckman produced a service ace and Rea delivered a kill to give the Warriors set point at 24-19. A kill by Vanguard’s Jessica Chase made it 24-20 before a kill by McCann put Westmont up two sets to none.

“We started out slower than I would have liked,” acknowledged Cook. “We started playing our game around the last third of the second set. It’s not that we were do anything horrible, we just weren’t playing our high, offensive selves. Our passing and serving was pretty solid; we just weren’t putting balls away as quickly as I would like to see.

As a team, Westmont hit just .093 in the first set, but turned it around with a .361 attack percentage in set two and .370 in set three. The third set was all Warriors who jumped out to a 14-5 lead and never looked back.

Libby Dahlberg led the Warriors’ offense with nine kills and a .571 attack percentage.

“Libby was her usual dominate self at the net,” noted Cook. ” Hats off to our setters (Buffham and Alexa Nestlerode) for feeding her as many balls as they can.

“I was impressed by our outside hitter’s creativity,” said Cook of Beckman (seven kills) and McCann (six kills). “Vanguard was doing a good job of closing the block against us. As the block was closing, they started having to be more creative with tips and off-speed shots or hitting into areas they don’t normally hit into.

“Even though Jessica wasn’t finding a lot of success at the beginning of the game, she stuck with it, stayed patient and stayed poised. That is what a senior is supposed to do.

“(Senior libero) Kami (Troesh) was her usual steady self, digging up a lot of balls and passing really well.

“It was a really good team effort. Everyone on the team contributed at different points. That’s what we do to teams – we keep them on their toes because they never know who is going to light a fire.”

With tonight’s win, the Warriors established a new record of regular season victories, surpassing the 1992 team’s 28-4 regular season record. They are just two victories short of the record set by the 1993 squad for the most wins in a season. The 1993 team, which finished a program-best third place at the NAIA National Tournament, went 31-10 after producing a regular season record of 23-8.

[box score] [photos]