The theme of this year’s Westminster volleyball team is relentlessness. On Thursday night at Century, the Owls showed exactly what that means.
Westminster trailed in all three sets before rallying for a 26-24, 25-20, 25-23 win, and a regular-season series sweep of the Knights (8-2, 7-2).
“We preach to them to play one point at a time,” said Westminster coach Ed Benish. “There were times when we got behind and had to rally, but we look at it as zero to zero, and we have to go out and win the next point. We played a good, well coached team tonight, and they pushed us a little.”
The Owls (10-0, 9-0 county) were their own worst enemy in the first set, committing 10 service errors, and trailing most of the frame. The Owls finally caught up, 19-19, on an ace by junior Emily Bartlett (34 assists, two aces). Westminster fell behind again, 24-22, before getting kills from Zoe Costley (eight) and Jilienne Widener (17 kills, eight digs) to close out the set.
Westminster trailed by as many as four early in the second set, but then caught fire in the middle of the set behind Costley’s serving. The junior served six straight winners and took the Owls from trailing by one, 8-7, to a 13-8 lead. The Owls ran the lead to 24-15, but couldn’t put the Knights away. Century rallied to cut the deficit to 24-20 before a Sarah O’Donnell (seven kills, seven digs) kill ended the set.
The Owls showed mettle in the third set. Century carried its momentum from the end of the second set to the third. The Owls trailed 7-1 to start the set, but gradually began chipping away. Westminster took the lead, 21-20, on an ace by Widener. Century battled back to tie the score at 23-23, but a service error by Melissa Bonzelet (14 kills) gave Westminster the lead at 24-23, and the Owls put the match away after a short rally and an errant Century kill.
The win puts Westminster in solid position to capture its first Carroll County championship in 20 years. The Owls have now beaten Century twice, and Liberty once.
“They are one of our biggest rivals, and we really wanted play well. We were determined to sweep them,” said Widener, a sophomore and the reigning Times Player of the Year. “We’ve been working so hard in practice, and it’s really great to see all the hard work we are putting in starting to pay off. This was a big win for us.”
The road for the Owls will likely get tougher as the playoffs approach, but Benish says the he likes the camaraderie he sees with his team.
“Our goal is to keep working hard and get 1% better every day in practice,” said Benish. “We are not a mystery this year, and we are not going to sneak up on teams. We just need to keep getting better.”