WVB: Westmont drops opener at nationals

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Westmont volleyball lost the opening match of pool play at the NAIA National Championships in Sioux City, Iowa on Tuesday. The No. 14 Warriors (22-9) fell to No. 11 Columbia of Missouri (29-9) in four sets 25-17, 21-25, 25-19, 25-16.

“We played pretty well, but it came down to being outsized in a few key areas and making too many errors on our side (of the net),” said Westmont head coach Patti Cook. “We got stuck in a couple of rotations and had difficulty siding out, which we don’t normally do. A lot of that was due to Columbia being so strong in transition.”

Tied at 10 points each in the first set, the Cougars used a 9-0 run to take control of the opening frame. The Warriors rebounded in the second set, however. At 16-all, Sydney Striff delivered a kill to spark a 4-0 Westmont run that was capped by a kill from Madison Serrano. Columbia pulled within two (22-20) on a kill by Trinity Ojo, but the Warriors scored on three of the next four serves to knot the game at one set apiece. Setter Heidi Thompson scored the set-winner on a dump over the net.

In the third set, Westmont jumped out to an 8-4 lead, only to see Columbia respond with a 14-4 run. In the fourth set, the Warriors battled back from an early deficit to tie the game at 15. However, Columbia closed out the match by scoring on 10 of the next 11 serves.

Striff led the Warrior attack with 10 kills and a .333 attack percentage. Ciena Colburn and Jessica McCann each added seven kills. Missy Fuerst, who was filling in at middle blocker for an injured Ciara Turner, tallied six blocks for the Warriors.”

“Sydney was hitting really well and got a couple of very nice stuff blocks that shifted the momentum in our advantage a couple of times. I was very proud of Missy and Ciena and the jobs they did in blocking. Missy’s presence at the net was great.”

The Cougars were led offensively by Paula Rosa with 20 kills and a .417 attack percentage. Ojo added 19 kills on .533 hitting.

The road won’t get any easier for the Warriors who continue pool play tomorrow with a match-up against #1 Texas-Brownsville (32-0).