The Western Washington University women’s volleyball team had a successful day on Saturday, May 15, defeating the Seattle Pacific University Falcons two times, winning the first match 3-1 and the second match 3-1.
The victorious day ended in celebration for senior pin hitter Alison Davenport and senior setter Janae Payne, winning their last ever Western game.
“They did not play very well last night and to come back and play as hard as they did today, it shows that they’ve got some grit and character,” said volleyball head coach Diane Flick-Williams.
Although there were no fans in attendance for the final volleyball match of the season due to COVID-19 protocols, the team's excitement and energy from winning the first match filled Sam Carver Gymnasium as they warmed up before the start of the second match.
The Falcons got to serve first. Both teams passed the ball back and forth until Davenport killed the ball, giving the Vikings the first point of the night.
The Vikings took a strong lead early on in the set. Junior middle Chloe Roetcisoender blocked the ball from going over the net, giving the Vikings a three point lead, 6-3.
The Falcons started to get defensive, catching up and tying the score, 8-8. Not long after, they got ahead for the first time in the set, 10-11.
A timeout was called for the first time a little over halfway through the set. Coming out of the timeout, the Falcons got two points in a row.
The Falcons served the ball over the net when Payne set the ball to redshirt freshman pin hitter Kylie Honrud who attacked the ball, giving the Vikings a point and bringing the score to 20-19.
The set started to get tight as the Falcons caught up but not quick enough as Davenport blocked the ball. Bringing the score to 23-20, the Vikings just needed two more points to win the first set.
The Vikings were able to secure another point, bringing the set to match point.
Flick-Williams called for a timeout. With the Vikings only needing one more point, there was no room for error as the Falcons started to creep up behind them.
After the timeout, the Falcons serve the ball over. After passing the ball a few times, Payne was right at the net and was able to block the ball, giving the first set to the Vikings, 25-23.
The second set started with Payne serving first for the Vikings. Sophomore pin hitter Calley Heilborn was the one to bump the ball over the net, securing the first point of the second set for the Vikings.
Near the middle of the set, the officials called the ball for being in bounds which would automatically give the opposing team the point, but Flick-Williams challenged it, stating the ball hit out of bounds — which would give Western the point.
The officials ruled that Flick-Williams was correct, giving the point to the Vikings and bringing the score to 16-15. Many cheers by the Western sidelines could be heard.
As the ball was in play, Honrud spiked the ball back over, unintentionally hitting a Falcon directly in the face — the Vikings still got the point.
Nearing the end of the set, Roetcisoender blocked the ball to bring the game to match point. The Falcons were not ready to give up just yet, tying the game at 24-24. To win a set, one team must win by two points.
Honrud was the one to put the ball away, bringing the Vikings to match point for the second time this set. The Falcons were not impressed and called for a challenge, but the officials overruled the challenge and the score stood on the court at 26-25.
Sophomore setter Malia Aleaga served the ball and aced it, literally. This ace gave the Vikings the second match, 27-25, only needing to win one more set to win the entire match.
The Vikings started to get into their groove with two sets under their belt, they were ready to take the third.
The Falcons were the first to serve during the third set and they also got the first point.
Cheers filled the sidelines as the Falcons got multiple service and ball handling errors.
The Falcons started to gain momentum as they got three points back to back, bringing the score to 19-17 with the Vikings still in the lead.
The game was tied at 23-23 before the Falcons got another point leading the set to match point. The Vikings were not as strong near the end of the third set which resulted in the Falcons winning it, 25-23.
“I think you just have to learn how to roll with the punches,” Davenport said. “Don't focus on what it could have been, just learn to appreciate the moments that you do get with the people that are around you.”
The fourth set proved to be a challenging one for the Vikings as the Falcons were not ready to give up — they still had a chance at winning the match.
The Vikings could not seem to get a good grasp on the ball the whole fourth set; the Falcons were trying to force a fifth set.
Closing in on the gap that stood between them, the Vikings were able to tie the score at 23-23 when Heilborn went in for the kill and destroyed the ball.
For the first time in the entire fourth set, the Vikings were able to pull ahead and bring the game to match point, 24-23, only needing one more point to win.
For the last time, Heilborn killed the ball. Vikings win 25-23 after a tough and demanding set.
The whole team rushed from the sidelines and embraced each other, tears streaming down Davenport and Payne’s faces as they had just finished playing in their last ever collegiate game.
“The joy that we have for each other, no matter who gets the kill, the block, the dig, we’re just so excited and ready to celebrate each other,” Payne said. “I just love our team culture.”
The Vikings were able to secure the second match, 3-1, ending their unconventional spring season with a 9-2 record, winning all their home games.
Overall, the Vikings had 11 blocks, 59 kills and a hitting percentage of .250 for the match.
After the match, the two seniors were celebrated. Their families joined them in the gym alongside their teammates. Flick-Williams said a few words, congratulating them on all of their accomplishments and how excited she is to see what they achieve next.
“This team is a family and that's something that sounds very cliche and a lot of teams say it, but it’s so true,” Davenport said. “They’re [some of] my best friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”