Vikings' Season Ends At Hands Of Red-Hot Cougars
Freshman Calley Heilborn finished with a double-double of 18 kills and 16 digs in the loss. Photo by Felicia Carrasco.
Freshman Calley Heilborn finished with a double-double of 18 kills and 16 digs in the loss. Photo by Felicia Carrasco.

Friday, December 6, 2019

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. –An incredible season came to an end at the hands of perhaps the West Region’s hottest team.

Down two sets to No. 6 seed Azusa Pacific, No. 2 seed Western Washington battled back to take the match the distance before falling to the Cougars in five sets, 19-25, 21-25, 25-21, 28-26, 13-15, in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II West Regional on Friday at The Den on the campus of Cal State San Bernardino.

The Vikings bounced back to win the third and fourth sets, posting a match-best .237 hitting percentage in the fourth. Western Washington was down 10-5 in the fifth set, but rallied to tie at 13-13 before the Cougars converted on a service error and a block to snare the win.

Freshman outside hitter Calley Heilborn led Western Washington with a double-double of 16 kills and 16 digs to go with six blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Gabby Gunterman finished with 15 kills and eight digs. Senior middle blocker Kayleigh Harper ended her career with 14 kills, six digs and five blocks. The Vikings finished with 14 team blocks and a .177 hitting percentage.

Katarina Radisic led Azusa Pacific with 17 kills while Sara Wagenveld finished with 12 kills and five blocks. Aliyah Morrison and Annaka Jorgensen each had 10 kills with Jorgensen adding 14 kills for a double-double. The Cougars matched the Vikings with 14 team blocks while finishing with a .243 hitting percentage.

Western Washington finishes its season with a 27-3 overall record. Azusa Pacific (28-4) advances to Saturday’s regional final to face either No. 1 seed Cal State San Bernardino or No. 4 seed Alaska Anchorage.

Azusa Pacific never relinquished the lead in the first set, going ahead 10-5 on a WWU attack error. The Vikings kept it close, coming within 15-14 on a block by sophomore outside hitter Tess Biscup and sophomore middle blocker Chloe Roetcisoender, but the Cougars proceeded to win six of the next seven points to open up the six-point lead that would be the winning margin.

Likewise, APU led the second set from start to finish, going ahead 15-8 on a service ace before the Vikings put together a run of six points in seven rallies to come withing 18-17. Heilborn and Roetcisoender combined for three blocks in the run. Azusa allowed Western just one more point off its own serve to complete the 25-21 win.

The Vikings bolted to a 4-0 lead on a pair of Harper kills to open the third set. The Cougars rallied to tie the frame at 10-0 and take the 11-10 lead on a Morrison kill. Western extended the lead back to 16-13 on an APU ball-handling error, but saw them rally right back to take the 20-19 advantage on a Radisic kill. The Vikings scored the final five points of the set from that point with two coming on blocks by Harper and freshman setter Malia Aleaga for the 25-21 win.

The fourth set proved to be the closest of the match with neither team taking more than a three-point lead. The Vikings went up 9-6 on a Heilborn service ace before APU came back to tie it a 12-12 on a Jorgensen kill. Western appeared to have some late momentum when it went up 21-19 on Roetcisoender’s kill, but the Cougars used two Radisic kills to fuel a four-point run that put APU up 23-21. The Vikings rallied to tie it at 25-25 on a Gunterman kill before a service error and freshman defensive specialist Tupu Lologo’s service ace closed the 28-26 Vikings’ win.

Azusa Pacific took early in the fifth set, going up 5-2 on a blocker by Morrison and Julianna Miller and building to the 10-5 advantage on a block by Sara Wagenveld and Amy Hinnant. Western rallied again, closing to within 11-9 on a block by Biscup and Roetcisoender and tied it at 13-13 on an APU attack error. A service error handed the ball right back to the Cougars, who received the block from Morrison and Wagenveld on match point to close it out.