SIOUX CITY, Iowa — After dropping the first set, Westmont Volleyball (24-6) stormed back in grand fashion to upset #3 Midland (Neb.) (26-5) in four sets open pool play at the NAIA National Championships. Following the win, Westmont now fully controls their destiny in their quest to advance. With a win over Bellevue (Neb.) on Thursday, Westmont would become one of eight teams remaining.
“This was absolutely incredible,” said Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin. “The blocking came alive in sets two, three, and four, and the defensive effort was spectacular. Kaili Hashimoto and Ilyssa Ocampo anchored the passing and serving, Phoebe Minch took risks offensively and came alive, and we slowed them down with our ability to block.
“Taylor Distelberg came up big with her kills and her blocking. She ended up hitting .529, and with that, her serving and defense were incredible.”
Minch led Westmont offensively with 19 kills to go along with an attack percentage of .350, while Distelberg’s 11 kills was the next-highest total for the team. Hashimoto recorded a game-high 22 digs, while setter Keelyn Kistner was next on the team with 15.
Kistner also collected 21 assists, while freshman Alexa Shiner added in 22 of her own. The two setters were also responsible for Westmont’s four service aces, with each Warrior recording a pair.
At the net, Lexi Malone led Westmont with seven blocks, while Distelberg and Sara Krueger each recorded four as well. Overall, Westmont’s excellent blocking allowed the victors to hold Midland to an attack percentage of .088.
Towards the end of the first set, Westmont began to pull away with a 22-19 lead going into Midland’s final timeout. As time would tell, Midland’s adjustment during the stoppage was enough to turn the game on its ear. Trailing 22-19, back-to-back kills sparked an eventual 6-0 run for Midland, allowing them to steal the first set with a come-from-behind 25-22 victory. Still, after losing the late advantage, Westmont was far from panic.
“We continued to trust the process after set one,” assured McGolpin. “We had the lead and let it slip, but you could tell that the team remained confident. Knowing that game could’ve been theirs gave them the confidence to keep swinging.”
Down 1-0, Minch and Malone announced Westmont’s official arrival with four kills in five possessions, forcing Midland to call an early timeout trailing 5-1. Eventually, Midland clawed back to tie the set at 15, but immediately after, Westmont responded with a pair of kills from Minch followed by another from Ashley Boswell.