Fairfield climbed back into the NECC volleyball title chase Tuesday night in Emma with a 26-24, 27-25, 25-18 victory over Westview.
The result left the Lady Warriors (8-1) with a half-game lead on the Lady Falcons (7-1) in the league standings heading into the final week of the regular-season. Westview can clinch at least a share of the crown with a win over Hamilton this Tuesday. Fairfield concludes its NECC slate with matches against Churubusco (Thursday) and Eastside (Tuesday).
Coach Heidi Brohm’s Lady Warriors had their chances to take down the defending conference champs Tuesday night. In the first game, tip-kills by Breann Bushong and Grace Hales put the hosts ahead, 23-21. But Fairfield battled back to force a 24-all tie, then scored the clinching two points on spikes by Hannah Siegel and Hailey Brown.
The second set also appeared to be going Westview’s way when Hales’ kill again brought the Lady Warriors to within two points of a win at 23-18. “I thought we had them there,” admitted Brohm.
But Fairfield would have none of it. Sparked by the powerful net play of 6-2 middle hitter Sierra Smith, coach Carla Herschberger’s Lady Falcons reeled off seven of the next eight points to take a 25-24 edge. A tip by Makai Gingerich briefly knotted the count at 25-all, but a Westview error and an ace by Erin Carlos garnered Fairfield the decisive points.
“I think our youth showed up in the second game,” stated Brohm, whose lineup at times consisted of five sophomores and a junior. “We didn’t capitalize on the chances we had to put them away.”
Fairfield, ranked No. 6 in the latest state poll, seized control of the third game with a 7-2 run which turned a 13-13 deadlock into a 20-15 advantage. Kills by Brown and Smith bookended the spurt. The duo combined for 27 spike winners and six blocks in the match.
Leah Wimmer collected 36 assists and three aces for the 20-7 Lady Falcons. Carlos also served up three aces and Kelsey Schiffli made 13 digs.
Hales finished with 11 kills, 17 digs, three blocks and an ace for Westview, which now stands 16-8 overall. Bushong totaled nine kills, five blocks and an ace. Gingerich netted two kills, 21 assists and 13 digs.
“We still have a chance to gain a piece of the (NECC) title and we hope to get another shot at Fairfield in the NECC tourney,” said Brohm. “Our girls were ready to play tonight; we just made a few too many youthful mistakes. Hopefully, we will learn from this and adjust.”
Westview hosts the NECC tournament on Saturday, October 19.