No. 3 WWU Volleyball Earns GNAC Team Of The Week
The Vikings defeated two nationally-ranked opponents in the West Florida Invitational.
The Vikings defeated two nationally-ranked opponents in the West Florida Invitational.

Monday, September 9, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore. – The 2018 national runner-up and No. 3 Western Washington volleyball team returned to Bellingham after a perfect 4-0 record at the West Florida Invitational in Pensacola, Florida, earning GNAC Team of the Week honors.

The Vikings opened their 2019 season with a pair of matches against nationally-ranked opponents. As far as season openers go, the Vikings couldn’t have scripted it any better than with a thrilling five-set victory over tournament host and No. 24 West Florida Thursday night. The Vikings would follow that with a 3-1 victory over No. 13 Wheeling on Friday afternoon.

The Vikings got off to a slow start in the third match on Friday, dropping the first set 25-16 to Spring Hill. They would answer with three straight convincing set wins to top the Badgers 3-1. Rounding out the trip to Florida was a sweep of Florida Tech on Saturday to keep the Vikings unbeaten.

“I am really pleased with the opening weekend,” said Diane Flick-Williams, who is in her 20th season as head coach of the program. “We asked a lot of our players to cross the country for the opening week of play, against good competition.”

Three Vikings recorded more than 40 kills over the course of the tournament. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Calley Heilborn led the charge with 56 kills, averaging 3.50 kills and 2.75 digs per set. Her game-high 20 kills along with 17 digs against Spring Hill highlighted her tournament.

Sophomore Gabby Gunterman followed closely behind Heilborn in tournament kills with 53. She averaged 3.31 kills, five digs and 0.19 blocks per set in the four matches.

Senior middle blocker and GNAC Preseason Player of the Year, Kayleigh Harper finished the tournament with averages of 3.15 kills, 0.31 digs and 1.00 blocks per set. Harper looks to add to her historic junior campaign that earned her Second Team AVCA All-American honors.

Flick-Williams is pleased with her team’s performace on the court so far, but the camaraderie of her players off the court may be just as impressive in her eyes.

“They came back with four wins, and even more importantly, they grew closer together as a team. I am excited to get back in the gym and go to work with very tough competition again this week at the West Region Showcase,” she said.

Western Washington will play four matches in the 2019 D2 West Region Volleyball Showcase’s Pomona pod. The Vikings are scheduled to open their tournament play against Cal State Monterey Bay at 10 a.m. on Thursday.