Missionaries sweep Willamette in Volleyball Home Opener
News Release Date:
Friday, September 21
Walla Walla, Wash.- With Matt Helm coaching his first game on George Ball Court, the Whitman volleyball team delivered their most comprehensive victory of the season against Northwest Conference foe, Willamette University. When asked about the meaning of winning his first home game as the Whitman head coach, Helm responded, "I was more happy for them. I was a little nervous at first, but it was more for the women. I just really wanted to win for them."
That they did. Buoyed by a boisterous student section, the Missionaries overcame some early nerves and swept all three games from the Bearcats for a 27-25, 25-20, 25-18. All night, the Missionary attack ran through juniorJillian Davis (El Paso, TX), who recorded 15 kills with just 5 errors in 30 attempts. Coming in just behind her on the stat sheet were seniors Olivia Nelson (Anchorage, AK) and Courtney Brewer (Anchorage, AK) who recorded 8 and 7 kills respectively. Helm noted, however, that the stat sheet doesn't tell the whole story, stating:
"When we brought players off the bench, I think there was huge impact on the momentum of the game. They really came in and performed at a very high level, and I think that's something that won't show up in the stats that had a huge impact on the game."
The win was especially sweet for a Whitman program that has struggled in recent years. Back-to-back conference wins have been a rarity, but this success was the result of a lot of hard work. In the pre-season camp, the team practiced three times a day for nine total hours. Helm is especially pleased that "people are able to see the fruits of their labor."
When asked what the team is doing better now that he didn't see before, Helm said they are being "focused and positive. There were a few times tonight when we fell behind and made four or five errors in a row, which gave Willamette some momentum, and these women just stepped forward and stayed positive to get the victory."
The Missionaries will look to continue their run next weekend when they travel to Oregon for games against Lewis and Clark College and George Fox University. Helm thinks the team will be able to keep improving on their recent successes because, "we have the humility to know we still have work to do to keep moving forward." Perhaps they still have work to do, but nights like Friday make it all worth it.