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College Volleyball

Westmont Downs Vanguard to Take Over First Place in GSAC

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) Westmont Volleyball, ranked at number five in the NAIA, won its 20th game of the season on Thursday night in just its 21st game of the year. The fifth-ranked Warriors swept Vanguard (8-7, 5-1 GSAC) in a Golden State Athletic Conference match-up to claim sole possession of first place with a 6-0 league record. Westmont won by scores of 25-12, 25-21 and 29-27.

"I was really pleased with our intensity and our focus from the very beginning of the match," said Westmont head coach Patti Cook. "We worked very hard in practice the last two days, specifically on preparing for Vanguard. I felt like the players were ready and hungry to meet what we faced head on."

Middle blocker Libby Dahlberg, who leads the NAIA in attack percentage of .450, tallied a game-high 15 kills and posted an attack percentage of .522. She also contributed five blocks.

"Libby was all over the place," said Cook. "It is fun to see her bounding back and forth between the pins. She has become so good at being available in transition and (setter) Amy (Buffham) did a really nice job of finding her. That has been a fun connection to watch develop over the season."

Outside hitter Taylor Beckman (.241 attack percentage) tallied 10 kills on the evening as did right side hitters Samantha Neely (.333 attack percentage) and Cassidy Rea (.476 attack percentage)

"Emma (Harrah) did a really nice job of closing off the blocks – closing to the pin and getting her hands on the ball," noted Cook. "Emma and Camryn (Kiana) were connecting well and Emma had some really nice kills. I saw a lot of confidence from Camryn. She was calm, cool, collected and making great decision and really nice sets."

Defensively, Brooklynn Cheney tallied 29 serve receptions and 10 digs while Beckman notched 18 digs and 11 serve receptions. Libero Lauren Fries added 13 digs and seven serve receptions.

"We changed our defense around a little bit to try and stop their right-side attack, knowing that would be a strong point for Vanguard – and sure enough it was tonight," said Cook.

"Our serving was on point," offered Cook. "We didn't get a lot of aces (four), but we were intentional in our serving and put it where we wanted it to go."

With the win, Westmont has extended its win streak to 19 games and is now 51-1 in regular season matches over the past two seasons. During that time span, Westmont has played just 14 home matches, winning them all.

"Up until this point (of the season), I had been counting how many freshmen are out there," said Cook. "I don't know when that stopped for me, but I realized I don't do that anymore. Now it's just a team. They are coming together as a team and playing as one."

The Warriors will conclude the first cycle through the GSAC on Saturday evening when they travel to Fullerton to take on the Royals of Hope International (11-5, 4-2). Tip-off is scheduled for seven o'clock.    

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