The Western Washington University women’s volleyball team were victorious two times on Saturday, May 1, in their doubleheader against the Central Washington University Wildcats winning the first match, 3-2, as well as their second match, 3-0.
Cheers from the sidelines could be heard as sophomore setter Malia Aleaga was up to serve at the start of the first set.
The Wildcats proved to be aggressive as they took an early lead, not letting the Vikings advance. The Vikings kept sending the ball long or blocking the ball out of bounds. This caused head coach Diane Flick-Williams to call an early timeout for her team.
“A big thing that Diane has mentioned and what we’re embodying this season is a learning mindset,” Olivia Fairchild, junior middle, said.
After the timeout, Aleaga served the ball over the net then the Wildcats sent the ball out of the court — or so it had seemed.
The point was given to the Wildcats as there appeared to be a deflection by the Vikings, but a challenge was called by the Vikings to review the play and it was determined by officials that the Vikings did not deflect the ball, winning the point and bringing the score to 11-7.
The Vikings put up a tough fight, but the Wildcats took the first set 25-23.
Central started off the second set, passing the ball back and forth with the Wildcats getting the first point.
As the set progressed, the Wildcats led the game 16-8. The Vikings had trouble playing off of the balls that the Wildcats served throughout the entire game.
A quick timeout called by Flick-Williams got the team back in the game as they gained two more points right out of the timeout.
“[Central] gave us issues and things that we are really going to have to look at come practice next week,” Flick-Williams said. “Once we settled in and said ‘let’s trust what we are learning’ we did a better job.”
The Vikings lost the second match to the Wildcats, 25-16.
Going into the third set, the Vikings had to give it all if they wanted to keep this match alive and have a chance at winning.
The Vikings finally gained some momentum as they got ahead of the Wildcats for the first time and sophomore defensive specialist Kasey Woodruff got two aces in the third set.
Flick-Williams called a challenge, thinking the Wildcats deflected the ball. As the Vikings still had a chance at securing the third set, every point counted. The officials gave the Vikings the point, bringing the score to 16-15.
In the immediate play after the challenge, the Wildcats called a challenge against the Vikings for deflection of the ball. After review, it was ruled that there was no deflection and the Vikings kept the score that stood on the court, 17-15.
The rest of the set went by quickly, with the Vikings winning, 25-19. They now needed to win the next two sets to win the entire match.
“We had to make sure when we’re going up to hit we take the shot that is available to us and not try to be too perfect,” said sophomore pin hitter Calley Heilborn. “Just making them keep playing the ball was going to be the key.”
The fourth set began with Central serving and the Vikings winning the first point. This was the first time in the match that the Vikings won the first point of the set.
The Vikings found their rhythm, controlling most of the game. They were ahead by nearly eight points in the middle of the set, trying their best to force a fifth set in hopes of securing the win.
The rest of the fourth set went by smoothly for the Vikings who got the win, 25-16. Only one more set was needed to determine a winner of match one.
For the Vikings to win the fifth set, they would need to be the first team to get to 15 points and win by at least two points.
Woodruff was the first to serve for the Vikings. With the ball sent over the net, the Wildcats fumbled the ball, giving the first point to the Vikings and giving Woodruff an ace.
Central tried to keep up with Western, wanting the win as well, but the Vikings had high energy and perseverance.
Nearing the end of the game, junior pin hitter Tess Biscup was right at the net, blocking the ball from coming over, bringing the set to match point. Just one more point and the Vikings would take the first match of the day.
The Wildcats were not ready to give up just yet as they gained two more points, keeping the Vikings on their toes.
The ball was served over by the Wildcats. Redshirt freshman pin hitter Kylie Honrud was the one to send the ball back over where the Wildcats were not able to take control, giving the final set of match one to the Vikings, 15-11.
It was a challenging game for the Vikings, but they came out on top winning match one, 3-2.
Overall, the Vikings had 20 blocks, 69 kills and a hitting percentage of .273 for the match.
“I was really pleased with our response from match one to match two,” Flick-Williams said. “We got into a very good rhythm, our serve receive got a little more solid which was helpful and our middles were really outstanding.”
After a long and tedious first match, the Vikings also won the second match of the day, sweeping the Wildcats, 3-0. This now brings their record to 7-1 for the season.
“It was a really good learning experience and I think we learned a lot from the first match, so in the second match [we were] a lot better performance wise,” Fairchild said.
Heilborn had an excellent match with an average of 3.12 kills and 3.25 digs per set across both matches. Woodruff had a team-high of 31 digs as well as three aces. Also, senior setter Jenae Payne had a career-high of 37 assists in the second match.
Currently, fans are prohibited 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 for all games.
Their next match is a doubleheader on Saturday, May 8, at noon against the Wildcats in Ellensburg, Washington.