Cassidy Rea of Westmont blasts a ball past a Marian blocker during the championship match at the NAIA National Tournament (Westmont College photo)

Westmont Volleyball’s storybook run through the NAIA National Women’s Championship did not end the way Warrior fans would have written it.

After pulling off wins over No. 1 Park in the quarterfinals and No. 6 Viterbo in the semifinals, Westmont (31-8) lost in the title match against the No. 11 Knights of Marian (Ind.) by scores of 25-20, 25-20 and 25-21.

“We made uncharacteristic errors,” noted head coach Ruth McGolpin. “We weren’t passing on point, our blocking wasn’t as disciplined as could have been and we made some serving errors.

Setter Keelyn Kistner dished out 18 assists in the title match.

Setter Keelyn Kistner dished out 18 assists in the title match. (Westmont College photo)

“However, I can’t take credit away from Marian, they were fantastic and did everything right. They made very few errors, they were smart, their passing was consistent and ‘seven’ was amazing.”

No, 7  was Sklyer Van Note, who tallied 20 kills for the Knights on 46 attempts without an attack error. The Warriors simply did not have an answer for her attacks. Van Note was named the Tournament MVP.

Senior Cassidy Rea and freshman Lexi Malone of the Warriors were named to the All-Tournament Team for their contributions over the seven matches.

“Cassidy is the only (Westmont) four-year Westmont player that has been to every national championship. She played phenomenally. It was fitting for her to be selected for the all-tournament team. She played her heart out.”

Rea finished second in the tournament in total kills with 107 while posting a .299 attack percentage.

Malone, a freshman middle blocker, was the tournament leader in blocks with a total of 44 (five solo, 39 block assists). She tallied 77 kills and posted a .281 attack percentage.

Westmont produced a remarkable run through the entire championship and established some new firsts – both within the program, and within NAIA Tournament history.

For the first time, Westmont appeared in its fourth consecutive NAIA National Tournament. Prior to last year, the Warriors had never qualified for the national championship more than two years in a row.

The Warriors had reached the semifinals twice before in 1990 and in 1999. This season, Westmont reached the championship game for the first time in program history and, correspondingly, can add ‘2019 NAIA National Runner-up’ to its list of achievements.

Prior to this season, only two teams that played in an NAIA Opening Round Tournament had reached the Championship Bracket semifinal – Wayland Baptist (Texas) and Lee (Tenn.). Neither of those teams won their semifinal match-up making Westmont the first team to have played in both an Opening Round Tournament and the Championship Match in the same season.

With the 2019 season in the books, Rea ends her career with 1,301 kills, which is ninth highest in the Warrior record book. Her .304 attack percentage is the third best in program history and best among all pin position hitters (outside and right side hitters). As for blocks, her 276 career total blocks is 10th on the career block list.

Rea and the rest of the Warriors return to campus Monday, just in time to take final exams which begin on Tuesday.