Women's Volleyball: Lions' middles pounce

Vanguard's McKinny, Flores combine for more than half of team's kills in big win over Westmont.

October 08, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

It may have been two teams straddling the middle of the road in the Golden State Athletic Conference, but the women's volleyball units from No. 16-ranked Westmont College and host Vanguard University, ranked No. 18, are also among the top NAIA programs in the country.

Perhaps fittingly, the road to success for the victorious Lions on Tuesday night was funneling their offense as close to dead center as possible.

Sophomore middle blockers Sarah McKinny and Stephanie Flores combined for more than half of Vanguard's kills to key a 16-25, 25-21, 25-13, 25-18 GSAC triumph that lifts the Lions (14-5, 3-3 in conference), into fourth place in the eight-team conference.


McKinny, a 6-foot middle blocker out of Dos Pueblos High in Westmont's Santa Barbara County neighborhood, had a season-best 15 kills, while hitting .609 and adding a team-best five block assists to lead the hosts.

Flores, a 6-1 sophomore from Yucaipa who entered the match ranked sixth on the team in kills, added 10 kills, hit .333 and chipped in two block assists to round out the Lions' centers of attention.

"We know [Westmont senior] Ciara Turner is a great middle, but we wanted to challenge her," Leja said. "She got us a few times [10 kills, just one off the pace of the Warriors' kill leader], but I think in general, our middles had good vision, turned the ball over and scored a lot."

McKinny, who called the victory a huge confidence boost for her squad, said it was merely a matter of taking what the Warriors gave her.

"I was just moving the ball around," McKinney said. "I hit left, then they moved left, so I hit right. The goal is to keep it in the court. When I see an open spot, I put it there."

It was more than directional, however, as McKinny blended full swings with soft tips and off-speed roll shots to consistently find a hole in the soft middle of the Westmont defense.

"Even we don't know what she is going to do with a set," Leja said. "She jumps so high and has such a natural feel for the game, she can get up and see the open court and make her decision [where to play the ball] at the last minute."

The McKinny-Flores combination was complimented by 6-2 junior opposite Jessica Neves, the Lions' leading offensive weapon who after recording just one kill in each of the first two sets, came on to finish 11kills and a .296 hitting percentage. Neves also had three block assists and one solo block, helping the hosts post an 8-5 advantage in team blocks.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles