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Volleyball: Vanguard Shuts Down Warriors’ Hopes of Upset

Westmont takes a 2-1 lead but falls in the fourth and fifth sets.

The return to the lineup of a number of Westmont College volleyball players helped the Warriors put a scare into No. 12 Vanguard (12-5, 7-5 GSAC) at Murchison Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.

Westmont (9-14, 3-9) served notice of their healthier roster by winning the first set 25-15. After Vanguard won the second set by the same score, the Warriors took a 2-1 lead with a 25-23 come-from-behind win in the third set. But the Lions closed the door on the Warriors’ upset hopes, winning the fourth set 25-22 and the final frame 15-11.

Alison Sharp, who returned from a knee injury, and Beth Widicus, who missed the last game because of illness, led the Warriors with 12 kills each. Stephanie Dunn posted 10 kills, and Laura Trudelle posted nine.

“I am very proud of the team,” said coach Jim Smoot, who was still missing several players from his lineup. “We didn’t know until about an hour before the match that Sami (Miller) wasn’t going to be able to play. Laura Trudelle (a senior) went in and played middle blocker, which she hasn’t done since she was a sophomore, and she played really well. Alison came in and stepped up big time.”

Libero Erin Dohm, playing in only her second game after returning from injury, recorded 23 serve receptions and 19 digs for Westmont. Sharp and Stephanie Strasner each added 18 serve receptions, while Stacey Braceros contributed another 12. Braceros also served up six aces for the Warriors.

“Our back row did really well with a lot of digs,” Smoot said. “Erin Dohm passed great, and her serve receive was phenomenal.”

After jumping out to a 10-5 lead in the first set, Westmont pressed their advantage to win by 10 points. In the second set, Vanguard reversed the score and was threatening to go up 2-1 in the third set. 

Down 17-22, Westmont regained the serve on a Vanguard attack error. Kills from Sharp and Treadle moved the Warriors to within two points (22-20) before a kill by Vanguard’s Jessica Roy (five kills) gave the Lions a 23-20 advantage. A Lion service error opened the door for back-to-back kills by Dunn and Sharp, giving Westmont a 24-23 lead, its first of the set. Trudelle secured the win for the Warriors with service ace.

Tied at 10 all in the fourth set, the Lions scored the next three points and established a lead they held until the Warriors tied it up at 21. This time, however, the Warriors couldn’t hold off the Lions who scored four of the next five points to secure the win and tie the match at two sets each.

The fifth set was not as kind to the Warriors. After a service ace by Trudelle to begin the set, the Lions scored the next six points, a deficit that proved too big for Westmont to overcome.

“We implemented the tactics that put us in a position to win and we served really tough,” Smoot said after the match. “Later on we went away from the things which were successful and started playing more tentative. When we play tentative, we make mistakes.”

The Warriors will travel to Santa Clarita on Tuesday to take on the Mustangs of The Master’s in a 7 p.m. game.

Ron Smith is Westmont College‘s sports information director.

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