The nationally-ranked No. 20 Vikings took on the Seattle Pacific University Thursday, Oct. 14, in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference bout inside Sam Carver Gymnasium.
Western is second place in GNAC rankings and was looking to continue their four-game win streak. SPU had won three straight coming into the match and is in fourth place.
With fans clad in rainbow colors, the SPU Falcons served to begin the Pride Night game.
Western scored the first point in the first set off an attack error by SPU’s middle blocker. The Falcons answered immediately with a kill.
The first set continued going back and forth with neither squad getting ahead by more than three points.
Midway through the first set, SPU went on a hot streak, tallying seven points in eight rallies. Down 15-12, the Vikings called a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Western outscored SPU 13-7, winning the first set 25-22 with a kill from junior pin hitter Gabby Gunterman.
The second set proved to be tighter than the first.
Both teams were neck and neck going into the final stretch of the set with neither side scoring more than twice in a row.
Down 24-22 with SPU threatening to take the set, Western scored three in a row off an SPU error with kills from sophomore pin hitter Calley Heilborn and junior pin hitter Tess Biscup.
Now with a 25-24 Western lead, the set had to continue since in volleyball a set must be won by two points.
SPU clawed back a point with a kill, but Western responded immediately with a kill of its own, courtesy of junior middle Olivia Fairchild.
Up 26-25, Heilborn stepped up to the line to serve. With a perfectly placed strike, Heilborn’s serve painted the SPU’s baseline, scoring an ace and winning Western the set.
“I almost had a heart attack,” Heilborn said. “You never want to miss your serve on the game point. To make it right on the line, it was very satisfying.”
SPU began the third set with an ace of their own and led by up to four points, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Vikings.
Western played from behind in the beginning. SPU surrendered their lead just once in the first 36 rallies until Western went ahead 19-18.
From there, the Vikings continued to push, outscoring SPU 6-4. An errant SPU strike soared over the Vikings players’ heads out of bounds to seal the game.
The Viking Band hoisted their brooms in the air signifying the completion of Western’s sweep of the Falcons.
Gunterman led the Vikings with 15 points.
“We trained all week and put a lot of hard work in, and I think it showed across the board tonight for the whole team,” she said.
Western’s front row continues to out-block opposing teams. The team paced SPU 11-3 in blocks led by Gunterman, Fairchild and junior middle Chloe Roetcisoender, who each accounted for five on the night.
That increased their total team blocks on the season to 151.5, which is 33.3% more than opponents.
“We’ve had some good moments individually, we haven’t played a real collective match yet. I feel like we did a really good job with that tonight,” Diane Flick-Williams, Vikings head coach, said.
The Vikings haven’t lost a home volleyball match since 2019 and have gone 45-1 at home since Carver was renovated in 2017.
“We always love being at home,” Flick-Williams said. “We love our band; we have a great crowd. Especially on Pride Night, it was a great deal.”
Western volleyball continued its four-game homestead on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. on WECU Court at Carver Gym in another GNAC matchup against Montana State University Billings.