Eagles edge Warriors in Top-20 showdown

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) Something had to give when #16 Westmont Volleyball (9-3, 4-1 GSAC) travelled to #1 Biola (13-0, 5-0) for a Golden State Athletic Conference showdown. The Warriors had won nine in a row prior to tonight while Biola came into the match with a 12-match winning streak. Both teams had won their previous 27 sets. Westmont had not dropped a set since August 28 and Biola since August 21.

The match lived up to the hype of two top-20 teams seeking to keep their respective streaks alive. Biola took the first set 25-19 but Westmont responded to claim the second set 25-20. Biola came from behind to take the third set 25-22 before Westmont forced a fifth and deciding set with a 25-23 win. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the number one team in the NAIA found a way to remain undefeated, winning the final set 15-9.

All three of Westmont’s losses this season have come in five sets to ranked teams (#21 Hastings, #6 Rocky Mountain and #1 Biola).

Westmont’s offense was led by outside hitters Taylor Beckman and Jessica McCann as well as middle blocker Libby Dahlberg. Beckman tallied 16 kills and posted a .351 attack percentage. McCann put down 15 kills with a .225 attack percentage while Dahlberg added 13 kills and a .280 attack percentage. Beckman also added 15 digs.

Setters Amy Buffham and Alexa Nestlerode set up the Warriors offense with Buffam providing 27 assists and Nestlerode 25.

In the opening set, Biola jumped out to a 6-1 lead and never let lost control of their advantage. Westmont took a 5-1 lead to start the second set. After the Eagles tied the set at 10 on a kill by Christina Denboer, a kill by Sydney Striff started the Warriors on a 5-0 that gave them control of the set.

Down 19-15 in the third set, Westmont created a 6-0 run that included a kills from McCann and Dahlberg, a service ace by Buffham. However, Biola responded by taking a point on six of the next seven rallies to go up two sets to one.

Westmont jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth set, however the Eagles battled back to tie the game at 15. From there, the score stayed within one point until a kill from Striff made it 22-20 in favor of the Warriors.

Ally Forsberg made the score 22-21 with a kill for the Eagles before McCann connected to give Westmont a 23-21 advantage. An Eagle attack error gave Westmont set point at 24-21, but back-to-back errors by the Warriors cut Westmont’s advantage to 24-23. Dahlberg responded with a kill to close out the set and tie the match at two-sets apiece.

At four-all in the deciding set, Biola got back-to-back kills from Joclyn Kirton to give the Eagles a lead they would not relinquish. Up 10-8, the Eagles scored five of the next six games to claim the set and the match.

After three-games on the road, the Warriors will return to Murchison Gymnasium to host #10 Vanguard (10-4, 3-0) on Saturday night beginning at 7:00 p.m.