Vikings Render Vulcans Dormant In NCAA West Regional
Sophomore Gabby Gunterman led the Vikings with 13 kills in the victory. Photo by Felischa Carrasco.
Sophomore Gabby Gunterman led the Vikings with 13 kills in the victory. Photo by Felischa Carrasco.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A runaway effort in the second set was sandwiched between a pair of close sets Thursday as Western Washington opened its run at the NCAA West Region Volleyball Championships with a three-set sweep of Hawaii Hilo, 26-24, 25-15, 25-23, at The Den on the Cal State San Bernardino campus.

After engaging in a five-set match with the No. 7 seeded Vulcans in September’s D2 West Region Volleyball Showcase, the Vikings worked hard to make a quicker affair on Thursday. The Vikings finished with a .344 hitting percentage and posted 13 team blocks while limiting Hawaii Hilo to a .127 hitting percentage.

With the win, Western Washington (27-2) advances to play the tournament’s No. 6 seed, Azusa Pacific, on Friday at 5 p.m. the Cougars, the PacWest Conference championships, scored a three-set sweep of No. 3 seed Cal State LA in the opening match of the quarterfinals.

Sophomore outside hitter Gabby Gunterman led the Vikings with 13 kills, three blocks and a .300 hitting percentage. Senior middle blocker Kayleigh Harper finished with seven kills and nine blocks and freshman outside hitter Calley Heilborn added nine kills and 11 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Tess Biscup registered seven kills while sophomore middle blocker Chloe Roetcisoender had six kills and four solo blocks.

Bria Beale led Hawaii Hilo (23-8) with 15 kills and seven digs. Emily Wade added eight kills while Kaila Lizama finished with 11 digs.

Western Washington hit .384 in the opening set, but would have to go extra points to knock off the Vulcans. The Vikings took their biggest lead of the set, 14-10, on Gunterman’s fourth kill of the frame, only to watch the Vulcans come back to within two points at several junctures.

The Vikings held the 23-20 lead, the point coming on a Roetcisoender block, but UHH scored three straight points and tied it at 23-23 on a Beale block. The teams traded points before Heilborn converted a kill and a service ace to give the Vikings the 26-24 win.

Western Washington was off to the races early in the second, bolting to a 4-0 lead on a pair of Hawaii Hilo attack errors. The Vulcans came back to within 8-7 before the Vikings won six straight points to make it a 14-7 advantage. Gunterman had two kills in the run while Heilborn earned an ace. Western extended the lead to eight points when a service error made it 19-11 and did not allow the Vulcans a point off their own serve from that point on for the 25-15 win.

The third set proved closer than the first as the Vulcans clung to life. Western Washington opened up a 7-4 lead on an attack error, but Hawaii Hilo came back to tie it at 8-8 on a block by Kendall Mott and Armani Moultrie. The Vikings held no more than a two-point lead the rest of the way and saw the Vulcans take the lead briefly, 19-17, on a service error. Western outscored Hilo 8-4 from that point on, closing the match on a Biscup kill.