Westmont College’s volleyball head coach Jim Smoot has had trouble keeping his middle blockers healthy. Coming into Tuesday night’s game, all but one had spent time on the bench with injuries — including two lost for the season. On Tuesday, as the Warriors battled No. 9 Azusa Pacific (19-8, 9-6 GSAC), senior Katie Sharp, the lone holdout among the middle blockers to remain healthy, crumbled to the floor after landing on a teammate’s ankle in the first set.
Despite losing Sharp for at least the balance of the game, the Warriors gave the Cougars a difficult time. After losing the first set 25-22, Westmont (9-17, 3-12 GSAC) rallied to post a 25-17 win in the second set. The Cougars prevailed in the next two sets 25-21 and 25-22 to claim the 3-1 win in the Golden State Athletic Conference match.
Statistically, the match was amazingly close. Westmont attempted one more attack than Azusa Pacific (143-142), recorded on more kill (51-50) and committed one more attack error (24-23). The hitting percentage differed by only one tenth of one percent — 19 percent for the Cougars, 18.9 percent for the Warriors. Azusa Pacific notched one more assist (47-46) and one more service ace 4-3. Westmont had one more dig 56-55. The only area with a bit of a margin was in blocking with Azusa Pacific recording 16 team blocks to Westmont’s 10.
Freshman Kate Barton, who replaced Sharp when she was injured, finished with six kills and five blocks despite the fact that she normally plays at the outside hitter position. Sharp’s sister, Alison, also added six kills to the Warrior cause. Freshman Kailee Blair posted 38 assists and added five kills of her own.
Azusa Pacific was led in scoring by Jill Baker (13 kills) and Amy Alkazin (11 kills). Allison Kincheloe had 28 assists, while Ariel Beetstra tallied seven blocks and five kills.
Westmont will be back in action at 3 p.m. Saturday when it hosts No. 4 California Baptist (20-6, 9-5 GSAC).
Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.