Westmont Volleyball (2-1) capped off their first weekend in the NCAA in grand fashion on Saturday night, when they defeated CSU Monterey Bay in come-from-behind fashion.
The Warriors won a tight first set, but the Otters proved dominant in the second and third games.
Then, in gritty fashion, the Warriors stormed back to take the penultimate and final sets of the weekend, leaving Seaside with their second win in three matches.
“It was a complete team effort,” Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin said. “We were subbing people in and out, at different spots, and everybody stepped up to get the job done.”
Phoebe Minch led the way for Westmont individually, as the standout senior collected a team-high 14 kills and six service aces while posting an attack percentage of .370.
Behind Minch, Taylor Distelberg and Jessie Terlizzi each collected 10 kills each. Aiding the attack, Alexa Shiner tallied 25 assists, while Ella Hosfeld added in 21 of her own.
Defensively, Kaili Hashimoto led the team with 20 digs, while Distelberg led the Warriors with six blocks.
“Nariah came in and gave us some solid blocking,” McGolpin said. “Ashley came in at a critical time and provided solid blocking and kills in set four. Phoebe Minch played amazing. She turned it on in both passing and attacking, and she was incredible.
“The defense felt like the difference as the match went on. I don’t even know how many digs Kai had, but she was incredible, digging crazy balls.”
In the first set the Warriors utilized bookend kills from Terlizzi and Distelberg during a five-point run that saw Westmont turn a 15-13 deficit into an 18-15 lead.
The Otters never again tied the set, as eventually a service ace by Hashimoto gave Westmont a 25-22 win.
In set two the Otters tallied a six, five, and four-point run, all at separate points in the game as they eventually evened the match with a 25-14 win.
Then, in set three, after Westmont hung in in battle trailing 16-13, the Otters took off on a six-point swing thanks to four consecutive service aces by Kaylie Honberger.
After dropping the third set 25-17, and falling down 2-1, the Warriors regrouped before the fourth set.
“Tactically, I told the team we had to start playing some defense,” McGolpin said. “We needed to start getting blocks and make them work a bit. They played a five-set match earlier in the day and were getting tired.
“We knew if we could make them play a fifth set, we had a great chance.”
In set four, following a 13-13 tie, kills by Nariah Prescott and Minch, followed by a block from Distelberg, allowed Westmont to begin to build an advantage.
Later on the Otters could only close the gap back to two, and eventually, kills by Prescott and Distelberg put the finishing touches on a 25-20 win to force a fifth set.
In set five, the Warriors came out hot and put the match away for good. A kill from Minch preceded back-to-back service aces from the senior, allowing Westmont to take a 6-2 lead.
Then, kills from Terlizzi and Distelberg caused the Otters to call their final timeout with Westmont leading 8-3.
CSU Monterey Bay had one last push left, trimming the deficit to one at 11-10. Then, an attacking error, an ace from Malia de Jesus, and another kill from Minch put Westmont on the brink of victory.
Moments later, with her 14th kill of the night, Minch allowed the Westmont bench to storm the court following a 15-11 set win, a 3-2 match victory, and a successful weekend in Seaside.
“Phoebe was our most solid, steady, and amazing attacker today,” McGolpin said. “Overall, we got the kills from the middles when we needed it, and our right sides stepped up as well. Having to play through different rotations, everyone did a phenomenal job.
“It was a great team effort and now we’ll get ready to play ‘em again next week.”
Westmont continues their pre-conference schedule next weekend in Rohnert Park, when they take on CSU Dominguez Hills and Monterey Park on Friday, before playing CSU San Bernardino and Sonoma State on Saturday.