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TMC Women's Volleyball: Not this time

Mustangs rally for unlikely win

Posted: October 5, 2010 10:29 p.m.
Updated: October 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The Master’s College middle blocker Victoria Callihan (27) spikes the ball over the net against the Westmont Lady Warriors at The Master’s College on Tuesday. TMC won 3-2.

Down two games and staring directly at an 0-9 start in the Golden State Athletic Conference, The Master's College women's volleyball team kept things positive.

"In that moment, we were thinking, ‘not again,'" said libero Leslie Windham. "We said the good thing was that it's volleyball and we've got three games left."

Boy, did the Mustangs make the most of them.

Spurred by a locker room speech by Windham and opposite Caitlyn Ramirez, The Master's College rallied for an improbable 3-2 victory over Westmont College on Tuesday at Bross Gymnasium.

The scores were 17-25, 12-25, 25-17, 25-23 and 15-12.

After giving up 13 straight points to Westmont (9-9, 3-6) and losing the second game, the Mustangs headed back to their locker room to regroup.

They emerged with a renewed enthusiasm for which Westmont never found an answer.

"It was amazing," said TMC head coach Bobby Blanken. "I'm very proud of the girls. It came down to fundamental execution."

Aside from the energy, execution was the most noticeable difference over the final three games for the Mustangs (6-12, 1-8). Their passing was crisper and the offense, led by middle blocker Tori Callihan and her team-high 18 kills, was more authoritative. They also fed off the enthusiastic crowd.

Every shot seemed to fall for The Master's College in the third game, which was never in doubt.

The fourth game was perhaps most crucial, as the Mustangs pulled out a back-and-forth affair by executing better than the Warriors late in the game.

"It is hard when the adrenaline's going and your hands are shaking, but you've got to do what needs to be done," Windham said.

Leading 22-21 in the fourth game, Westmont committed a net violation and TMC outside hitter Jenna Kapuscinski rifled home a kill to pull her team within a point of victory. The Mustangs committed back-to-back unforced errors, but their block came to the rescue and won the game on the next point by deflecting a Westmont shot inbounds.

The Master's College demonstrated similar resiliency in the fifth game, pulling away from an 8-8 tie to eventually win the match on a block out of bounds by the Warriors.

Earlier in the match, such an outcome seemed hard to envision.

As much as the Mustangs excelled over the final three games, they struggled just as much the first two. Westmont's passing and rotations were sharper and the Warriors let The Master's College beat itself with inconsistent play.

"(We were) just really connecting and our confidence was high," said Warriors middle blocker Ciara Turner.

But once the Mustangs regrouped before the third game, everything changed.

TMC outside hitter Sam Dougherty finished with 13 kills, while setters Jamie Long and Brook Bekendam had 27 and 19 assists, respectively. Windham led the hosts with 25 digs.

Outside hitter Alison Sharp led Westmont with 19 kills, while setter Candace Adema had 46 assists and defensive specialist Kristin Schroeder had 23 digs.

Afterwards, Blanken had one thing he wanted to express about his players, who have stuck together through the rough start to conference play.

"How proud I am of those who continue to come into the gym and keep working, because this is the hard thing but the right thing to do," he said.



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