COSTA MESA, Calif. – Two NAIA Top-25 teams squared off in a Golden State Athletic Conference volleyball duel on Tuesday evening in The Pit. The No. 18 Lions rallied after trailing 1-0 to capture the all-important 3-1 (16-25, 25-20, 25-13, 25-18) GSAC win over No. 16 Westmont.
The Warriors got off to a good start in the first frame, grabbing and holding the lead after the lone tie at 3-all behind six kills from Ciara Turner. Westmont's libero, Kami Troesch, came up with seven pickups in the set. Junior Kelly Heenan (Costa Mesa, Calif.) matched the defensive effort for the Pride with seven of her own, though none of the Lions' hitters recorded more than three kills in the 25-16 loss.
Vanguard played at a different pace in the second set, showing urgency as it jumped out to a 9-4 lead. Westmont eventually cut it to two points at 11-9 but the Blue and Gold rallied to stretch the edge to 20-12 before triumphing at 25-20.
Sophomore Sarah McKinny (Santa Barbara, Calif.) registered six kills and an incredible five block assists in the frame for Vanguard. Heenan added six digs to her total while the Lions' setters, sophomore Carla Cantarella (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and freshman Myranda Cunningham (Irvine, Calif.) registered seven and six assists, respectively.
The force was with the Pride in the third as Vanguard took the court and quickly went out front 12-7 after a dynamite blast from sophomore Stephanie Flores (Yucaipa, Calif.) that practically put a hole in The Pit's antique hardwood. Though the floor survived, the Warriors did not as Vanguard ran away with the set, 25-13.
McKinny smashed seven more in the third to increase her kill total to 15, while hitting .609 through three frames.
Westmont recuperated in the fourth and led 10-7 before the Lions roared back to tie the frame at 11-11. From there it was back-and-forth, until a solo block by junior Jessica Neves (Mission Viejo, Calif.) swung the pendulum in Vanguard's direction for the duration, culminating in the 25-18 victory.
Cantarella and Cunningham finished the match with 22 and 26 assists, respectively, while Heenan totaled 25 digs for Vanguard. McKinny was fantastic all-around, hitting a super-human .643, with a match-high 19 kills.
Flores, Neves and sophomore Charlotte Heerlyn (Santee, Calif.) aided the Vanguard offense with 10, 11 and 8 putdowns in the victory.
Other notable statistics came from junior Ashli Bellinger (Chandler, Ariz.) who had 11 digs, and Cunningham who aced the Warriors twice in the contest.