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Monday, May 17, 2021

Vikings sweep Falcons, 3-0

Western women’s volleyball does it again, defeating the Seattle Pacific University Falcons

Western second-year Malia Aleaga sets the ball during the Viking Women’s Volleyball match in Bellingham Wash., on Friday, April 23, 2021.
Western second-year Malia Aleaga sets the ball during the Viking Women’s Volleyball match in Bellingham Wash., on Friday, April 23, 2021. The Vikings defeated the Falcons 3-0. // Photo courtesy of Jeff Evans

By Hayley McGee

With home court advantage in Sam Carver Gymnasium, the Western Washington University women’s volleyball team claimed victory, 3-1, over the Seattle Pacific University Falcons on Friday, April 23.

The Vikings and the Falcons always put up a tough fight, almost always leading a five set match — to win a volleyball match, one team must win three sets.

Volleyball head coach Diane Flick-Williams said that this match was an opportunity for the team to learn and get better, win or lose.

“I’m very pleased with what we did tonight because of our focus,” Flick-Williams said. “It [also] gave us the opportunity to learn what we need to learn for tomorrow.”

Sophomore setter Malia Aleaga was the first to serve in the first set. 

The Falcons tapped the ball over when junior middle Olivia Fairchild pushed the ball back across, giving the Vikings the first point in the set.

As the set continued, the Falcons started to get defensive right at the net with the ball going back and forth between the teams. Neither team was ever more than three points ahead of one another, making this a tight set.

Nearing the end of the first set, both teams were tied, 24-24. Usually a set goes until one team gets 25 points, but to win a set, one team must win the set by at least two points. The Falcons hit the ball into the net, giving the Vikings a point. Only one more point was needed to secure the first set. 

Junior pin hitter Gabby Gunterman put the ball away, giving the Vikings the first set, 26-24.

“It’s been an insane amount of days since we’ve played against an actual team,” Gunterman said. “It’s really fun to get out there and play [and] see our skills in action.” 

Many cheers and chants could be heard by the Vikings on the sidelines as the second set began.

The Vikings took the lead early on and the Falcons tried to even out the score, but they were unsuccessful.

Aleaga set the ball across the court to sophomore pin hitter Calley Heilborn who then went in for the kill. The Falcons tried to block the ball but ended up blocking it out of bounds, leading the game to match point.

Fairchild went to score the last point needed to win but the Falcons were able to dig the ball, keeping it in play, though some miscommunication on the Falcons end resulted in giving the Vikings the second set, 25-20.

Aleaga said that playing during the pandemic has been a change, but that it’s nice just getting to be on the court with her team.

“The first weekend it was definitely a little nerve wracking for us,” Aleaga said. “But this past weekend I think we kinda settled in and got our groove back.”

The Vikings had a strong start in the third set, but the Falcons were able to tie the game early on and for the first time during the set were ahead, not letting the Vikings have any chance to advance. At this point, the Vikings needed five points to even catch up to their competitor.

As the game progressed, both teams passed the ball back and forth. The Falcons hit the ball long, hoping to get a deflection by the Vikings, instead it went out of bounds, giving the point to Western.

The Falcons were not impressed by this call which resulted in a challenge of the play.

To the naked eye, it was too tough to see, but upon further review of the play, the officials determined there was no deflection by the Vikings and the call stood on the court.

Nearing the end of the set, the Falcons sent the ball long out of the court, leading the game to match point — just one point away from sweeping the match.

Sophomore defensive specialist Tupu Lologo served the ball over to the Falcons who tried to pass the ball back over but instead hit it out of bounds giving the set to the Vikings, 25-22.

The Vikings swept the match 3-0.

“I really liked the effort they put in in the end,” Flick-Williams said. “It’s the way they did it, the way they played as a group and that was really important for us to get the comeback.” 

Overall, the Vikings had 12 blocks, 46 kills and a hitting percentage of .240 for the match.

“I’m really excited about our team and the way they are approaching this season,” Flick-Williams said.

The Vikings had a 12-game winning streak against the Falcons and with the win on Friday, they made it a 13-game winning streak.

The winning streak sadly came to an end the next day as the Vikings played the Falcons in the Royal Brougham Pavilion in Seattle, Washington, on April 24, in a doubleheader.

The Vikings put up a tough first match, but ultimately lost 1-3. They came back strong though, winning the second match 3-1. This now brings their record to 5-1 for the season.

Currently, no fans are permitted inside any university game or event. However, fans can catch the rest of the home volleyball season and every other home game via webcast on VikingsTV. Fans can also follow the WWUAthletics Twitter  and Instagram page to stay up to date with the latest plays and updates.

Their next match is a doubleheader on Saturday, May 1, at noon against the Central Washington University Wildcats.

Hayley McGee is a sports reporter for The Front and a third-year marketing major and a public relations minor. You can reach her at hayleymcgee.thefront@gmail.com

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