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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

No. 5 Vikings spike in 39th Consecutive Home Game Win

The WWU women’s volleyball team celebrates after winning a set against Montana State University Billings in a 3-0 sweep on Saturday, Nov. 2. // Photo by Jordan Shepherd

By Jordan Shepherd 

The No. 5 women’s volleyball team brought out the brooms Saturday night as the team beat Montana State Billings 25-21, 25-15, 25-20, to record its 12th sweep of the season.

This victory marked the 39th consecutive home game win at Sam Carver Gymnasium. A record that dates back to the 2014 season and is the longest in school history. 

“I think we did a good job of bringing the energy we needed to bring, we have been working on some certain things in practice that is starting to translate into the game,” head coach of 20 years Diane Flick-Williams said. “We try to get 3% better each week, so we’re not going for huge gains, we’re just trying to make the little gains each week which are actually attainable, and win the next play.”

With this win, the Vikings beat Billings in 11 consecutive matches and now improve to 21-1 on the season, and maintain first place with 13-1 record in GNAC conference play. 

All-American senior middle Kayleigh Harper led the Vikings with 13 kills, five blocks and a hitting percentage of 0.632. Making five of six points — 4 kills and 0.5 blocks — during the 6-0 run that helped push the Vikings to a victory in the third set. 

Harper now stands in fifth place of all-time for career kills in the Western women’s record books with 1,198 career kills. The fourth spot is held by former player Gretchen Haakenson, who tallied at 1,228 career kills. 

“Kayleigh was outstanding in mixing up shots and really seemed to be in command of her game,” Flick-Williams said. “She has been working hard to improve, and I’m happy for her that it has paid off.”

Sophomore outside hitter Gabby Gunterman also dominated the game and recorded her 13th double-double of the season with 13 kills and 11 digs. Senior Mae Thungc had 10 digs, moving her total to 976 digs for her career with the Vikings.

“I think we did a good job of implementing everything we have been working on this week,” Thungc said. “It was a hard week of playing Simon Fraser on Tuesday, and then having to play again on Saturday. I just feel great contributions from everyone, and we stayed steady through it all.”

Sophomore middle Chloe Roetcisoender had seven kills and five blocks for the Vikings, while redshirt freshman outside hitter Calley Heilborn had six kills and 11 digs. Redshirt freshman Malia Aleaga had 40 assists in the game, with two blocks, six digs and an ace, and redshirt freshman utility player Tupu Lologo had 10 digs and led the team with two aces.

The Vikings, now 21-1, have reached the 20 win mark for the eighth consecutive season and for the 30th time in the 48-year history of the women’s volleyball program. Flick-Williams coached the Vikings to at least 20 wins in 15 of her last 20 seasons and recorded a 195-38 record during the eight-season streak. 

“We always say ‘be us,’ because a lot of the times in games we be ourselves with things we are doing, other teams do great things as well,” said Gunterman. I think a lot of the times when a game starts to go a bad way it’s because of what we’re doing. So, in a sense, ‘being us’ is doing our jobs and always doing our positions to the best of our ability.

The Vikings will now go on a stretch that sees four of the final six matches on the road. Western will take on Seattle Pacific University on Thursday, Nov. 7, and Saint Martins on Saturday, Nov. 9. The Vikings will play their next home game on Thursday, Nov. 14, against University of Alaska Anchorage.

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