Vikings Volleyball Earns Team Of The Week With Road Wins
Western Washington's wins over Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington kept it in the title chase and lifted the Vikings to No. 9 in the AVCA Division II Coaches Poll
Western Washington's wins over Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington kept it in the title chase and lifted the Vikings to No. 9 in the AVCA Division II Coaches Poll

Monday, October 31, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – Western Washington volleyball kept itself in title contention with a pair of big road wins en route to earning GNAC Team of the Week honors while also moving up one spot to No. 9 in the AVCA Division II Coaches Poll. The Vikings took a four-set win over Northwest Nazarene on Thursday ahead of a five-set victory over Central Washington on Saturday.

Western Washington opened its week with a four-set win over Northwest Nazarene on Thursday. The Vikings came out of the gates with their most efficient attacking set of the match with a .438 hitting percentage. A key 6-2 scoring run in the middle of the set allowed WWU to pull away and secure the first frame 25-17. Western Washington was able to close out the second set with an identical scoreline courtesy of a six-point run to end the frame.

 Northwest Nazarene was able to bounce back and take a close third set 25-23 before the Vikings closed out the final set 25-16. Calley Heilborn led the way for WWU with an impressive double-double of 23 kills and 23 digs to go along with four blocks and two aces while posting a .561 hitting percentage. Senior setter Malia Aleaga passed the ball for 53 assists along with making nine digs and a block.

Western Washington capped off its road trip with a five-set victory over Central Washington in Ellensburg on Saturday. The Vikings took the first set 26-24, coming from behind to take the early advantage. The Wildcats came out on a charge using a five-point run to take the initial lead in the first set 9-2. It wasn’t until late in the frame that WWU was able to claw back the lead and edge out the win.

The second set was another close affair that Western Washington took 25-23 before being put on the back foot when Central Washington took the following sets 25-19 and 25-20. The Vikings rallied back in the final set, using a six-point run to put themselves in the driver’s seat initially before the Wildcats surged back and brought the score level at 13-13. Western Washington closed out the fifth frame 16-14 after CWU forced the deuce. Aleaga put up another 54 assists against Central Washington along with three kills, nine digs and an ace.

Head Coach Diane Flick-Williams is proud of the way that the Vikings handled the road trip and had contributions from across the roster.

“Going on the road in the GNAC is really tough, especially late in the season,” Flick-Williams said. “And matching up against two teams like NNU and CWU is no small task. I am proud of the way our team embraced the challenge and stuck together through recent adversity. You can go up and down the roster and see how each player made an impact in these two wins, including at Central where our redshirt players brought a lot of energy to the sidelines.”

Heilborn put on another show Saturday with her second double-double of the week. She smashed through with 22 kills and added 19 digs to go along with five blocks. She was also named the GNAC Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week after averaging 5.00 kills and 4.67 digs per set with a .373 attack percentage through both matches.

“I thought Calley Heilborn was exceptional in nearly every part of the game,” head coach Flick-Williams said. “Hitting, passing, receiving and leadership – all that fueled us at key times each match. Anna Maracich and Chloe Roetiscoender had a huge impact in the middle and Malia Aleaga was the quarterback of it all putting our hitters in great spots to be successful.

Western Washington will be back in Bellingham this week for a pair of matches against Western Oregon on Thursday and Saint Martin’s on Saturday.