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College Volleyball

Westmont Volleyball Earns Spot in NAIA Round of 16

With a three-set sweep of Marian (Ind.) in the second day of pool play at the NAIA Volleyball Championships, sixth-ranked Westmont earned a spot in the 16-team championship bracket to begin on Friday morning.

The Warriors (34-3) defeated the Knights (28-7) by scores of 25-22, 25-17, 25-19.

The Warriors offense kicked into gear and produced a team .303 attack percentage by recording 49 kills on 122 attempts. Junior outside hitter Samantha Neely recorded 11 kills and a .391 attack percentage while freshman outside hitter Hali Galloway notched 10 kills and tallied a .350 attack percentage.

"I thought that we looked more like us," said Westmont coach Patti Cook, comparing Wednesday's match with Tuesday's 3-1 victory over Saint Xavier (Ill.) "We know we can transition really well and I thought that was something that was missing yesterday. To see us get back into that flow was nice. We were confident, we were comfortable and we were used to the environment."

A seesaw battle in the first set ended in the Warriors' favor when Westmont produced a 5-1 run to claim the victory. Galloway, Cassidy Rea and Libby Dahlberg contributed kills in the run that put the Warriors up 1-0 in the match.

The second set belong to the Warriors from the beginning as they jumped out to a 5-1 lead and never looked back. Galloway and Taylor Beckman recorded four kills each during the middle frame.

In the third set, Westmont put together a four-point advantage before Marian rallied to tie the game at 13. 

"We knew we had to finish the third set strong because in a national tournament, where we play so many matches, playing the least amount of sets is awesome for our bodies to recover," said Cook.

Kills by Dahlberg and Brooklynn Cheney helped the Warriors go on a 5-1 run to go ahead 18-14. The Knights would get no closer than three points the rest of the way.

Westmont finishes up pool play with a match against No. 11 Midland of Nebraska (21-9). Like Westmont, Midland is undefeated in pool play and has also claimed a spot in the championship bracket.

"Midland is a very strong team," said Cook. "They have some very good middles, which we haven't seen a lot of this season. We will be focusing on defending against that. I think we match up very well against them, though. I see us as very similar teams with strong arms in every location, with good passing and good setters that make good decisions. It is going to be a fun battle. If we can win the serving and passing game, the defense will take care of itself for us."

The winner of Thursday's game will take on the No. 2 team in Pool E in the Round of 16, while the loser will face the No. 1 team from Pool E.

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