The first PacWest match in Westmont College history took place on Thursday night in Murchison Gym when the Westmont Volleyball team played host to the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds.

While the gym was packed full of Westmont fans on a historic night for the college, the visitors got the last laugh as FPU defeated Westmont in four sets.

“I am proud of the group tonight, more than anything,” Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin said. “They handled themselves with dignity and class, they fought ’till the end, and they continued to get after it.

“They also played smart, and had some great shots, and more than anything, they never gave in.”

Westmont opened up the night on a 4-1 run, allowing the crowd inside their home gym to settle in nicely, but once Fresno Pacific later took a 12-11 lead, the Warriors never again tied the set.

Westmont once trailed 19-16 before kills from Phoebe Minch and Alexis Dennick pulled the team back within one, but the gap would shrink no further as FPU distanced themselves from Westmont in the end for a 25-20 set win.

Westmont’s lone win of the night came in set two where the two sides first traded 30 points to a 15-15 tie.

Then, Taylor Distelberg took over the set with back-to-back kills and a solo block that highlighted a four-point run. After leading by as many as seven at 24-17, the Warriors held off a late surge by their opponents to even the match with a 25-22 win.

The third set remained competitive through a 17-17 tie, with Fresno Pacific inching away as the set entered the 20’s. Sara Krueger collected a kill that pulled Westmont back within one at 21-20, but the kill proved to be Westmont’s final point of the set.

Two kills from FPU along with a pair of Westmont attacking errors allowed the Sunbirds to go on top 2-1 with another 25-20 win.

The match came to a close in the fourth set when FPU’s game-changing run came much earlier than in sets one and three.

Following a 10-10 tie, FPU went on a 6-2 run to take control of the set, never allowing Westmont to trim the deficit to less than two.

Down 24-19 the Warriors saw Jessie Terlizzi and Minch collect back-to-back kills, but a Westmont service error ended the fourth set by a score of 25-21, giving Fresno Pacific a 3-1 win to open PacWest play.

“What I loved,” McGolpin said, “is we were down 24-19 and our attackers were still ripping at it. Losing stinks, but I’m proud of how we handled ourselves on our half of the court.”

Individually, Krueger was one of three Warriors with 10 kills on the night, as the junior also posted an attack percentage of .391. Minch and Terlizzi also collected 10 kills, while Dennick swatted eight with a .333 attack percentage.

Distelberg, who hit .412 with eight kills, led Westmont with four blocks. Alexa Shiner collected 21 assists as Ella Hosfeld added in 20 of her own, while DS Malia de Jesus led Westmont with 13 digs.

“Sara Krueger was a standout tonight,” McGolpin said. “Jessie played great as well, she was smart and collected a lot of kills down the stretch. The middles were fantastic as well.

“FPU had some shots go their way, but we’re right there. Even though we lost, I’m extremely proud of the team. They handled themselves like Westmont Warriors.”

The Warriors will return to PacWest play on Saturday night in Irvine as they take on Concordia at 5:00 p.m. Links to live coverage will be available on the Westmont Athletics website.