SANTA CLARITA — Westmont Volleyball (16-4, 10-2 GSAC) won their fourth match in a row on Saturday night in Santa Clarita, pushing their first-place lead atop the Golden State Athletic Conference to 1.5 games. The Warriors and The Master’s Mustangs (10-9, 5-7) split the first two sets, before Westmont outscored TMU 50-36 in sets three and four to close it out.

“This was the first time for me as head coach that we’ve won here,” said Westmont head coach Ruth McGolpin. “We didn’t play here in 2020, but in 2019 we lost and in 2021 we lost, so it was nice to finally get the monkey off our back. I’m thrilled.”

The individual story of the night was All-GSAC star Lexi Malone, who posted the most dominant showing of her senior campaign. Malone recorded a match-high 20 kills while hitting .515, and also led the Warriors with three blocks. Malone’s 20 kills was a new career-high, highlighting the Warriors dominance at net, where they out-killed TMU 57-38.

“Lexi was our go-to player tonight,” said McGolpin. “We talked a lot going into tonight about what she needed to do differently, versus last time out. She watched her own film, being a student of the game and trying to become better.

“Obviously, she got on a run, and I just kept telling the setters, ‘feed her’.”

Feeding Malone the most often was Keelyn Kistner, who led the Warriors with 23 assists, while also recording three service aces. Westmont’s other setter, Alex Shiner, recorded 18 assists, while collecting four service aces. In the back row, the defense was highlighted by the play of Kaili Hashimoto and Phoebe Minch, who each recorded 19 and 17 digs, respectively.

“The back row play of Phoebe Minch and Kaili Hashimoto needs to be highlighted,” pointed out McGolpin. “They were rock-solid tonight. We were great on the defensive end, we out-dug them by about 15. Our bread and butter is our serving and passing, and we kept strong with our mental mindset as the match went on.”

The first set saw the Warriors win 25-15 after beginning the match on a 6-1 run. Westmont also scored the final seven points of the game to close it out. In the second set, Westmont lost a nail-biter after leading as late as 24-23. Instead of Westmont going up 2-0, the Mustangs scored the final three points of the set to win it 26-24, tying the match 1-1.

In the third set, Westmont took control following a 12-11 deficit, going on a 7-0 run to claim an 18-12 advantage. From there, the lead continued to expand as the Warriors dominated the end of the set for a 25-15 win.

Then, in the fourth set, the two remained close into the 20’s. Up 19-18, Westmont went on a three-point run to go up 22-18, all but ending the match. Then, up 23-21, Malone capped off her career night with kills 19 and 20 to win it 25-21.

“The money is off our back,” repeated McGolpin. “It’s the first time we’ve won here as a group. It was rivalry week and we went 2-0. One of our goals this week was to jump on teams with the first five points of every set, and I think we did that.

“We had an opportunity to cave and we didn’t. Certain players could have crept back in their turtle shells and they didn’t. We won the mental game tonight, and we’re continuing to get stronger on that side of the game.”

Westmont returns to the court on Friday, October 21, in San Dimas, where they’ll take on Life Pacific. First serve is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., and links to live coverage will be available on the Westmont Athletics website.