Olivia Riley, Contributor
CHILLICOTHE — The Westfall Mustangs are looking to continue last year’s stellar season.
Tuesday evening, in Chillicothe, the Mustangs only needed three sets to grab their first win in SVC league play — taking the first step in defending their conference title.
Westfall (2-1, 1-0 SVC) handed Southeastern its first loss of the season by a 27-25, 25-16, 25-15 final.
After falling behind 15-7 early in the first set, the Mustangs needed to regroup … and fast. Aggressive serving and defensive efforts at both the net and in the back row were proving to be key elements for the Panthers.
“Energy is the most important thing,” said Mustang senior Kristin Phillips. “We started off really slow, but once we picked up the energy, we just took the motivation from the other side of the net.”
For the Mustangs, energy was all they needed.
After fighting back from a large deficit to win the first set 27-25, Westfall cleaned up the mistakes and went on to blaze through the following two sets.
Phillips, Mullins, and Latham connect in the front row
Westfall’s two returning middle hitters played fantastic matches.
Teaming up with her setter, senior captain and 2019 SVC Player of the Year Kristin Phillips turned on the heat towards the end of Tuesday’s match, ending the night with 16 kills.
Marissa Mullins, a junior, totaled a team-high 18 kills while Claire Latham racked up 30 assists on the night.
This trio, as expected, will prove to be deadly in the matches to come.
Defense, defense, defense
Defensive efforts on both sides of the net proved to be crucial for the eventual outcome.
For the Mustangs, Mullins led the stat sheet with 15 digs and three solo blocks. Following her was Latham and Lauren Daniels with eight digs apiece. Phillips also added three solo blocks.
For Southeastern (3-1, 0-1 SVC), Lexie Lockwood totaled 17 digs with only three errors. Next was junior Hannah Lougheed and sophomore libero Reagan Ruby, who tallied 13 and eight digs, respectively.
The Panthers totaled 84 digs in the match.
After beating the Panthers, Westfall will travel to Paint Valley to face the Bearcats (1-2) in each team’s second SVC match, Thursday.
Southeastern now travels to Kinnikinnick to face the Zane Trace Pioneers (3-0), a group that handed Unioto a four-set loss on Tuesday.
“What we’re looking to improve on is, really, just starting off strong and making a better serve receive so we can put that ball away a lot quicker and a lot faster,” Phillips said. “We always talk about first ball, side out. If we lose that ball, then we need to get that ball back immediately and limit runs on the other side of the net.”