Olivia Riley, Contributor
WAVERLY — The Westfall Mustangs are district champions.
The Mustangs (17-4) beat the Alexander Spartans (19-4) in four sets, a 24-26, 25-20, 25-17, 25-17 final, to claim their first district title since 2017 on Saturday at Waverly High School.
“Our mindset was to be aggressive,” said senior libero Lauren Daniels. “We wanted to be aggressive every point, every ball, and every play.”
Alexander led throughout the entire first set.
Senior Karsyn Raines paced the Spartan offense, and they kept a steady margin until the Mustangs found a surge of momentum behind 2019 SVC Player of the Year Kristin Phillips. Westfall eventually tied the score at 22, and survived two Spartan set points to tie it again at 24. But Alexander then rattled off two straight points to end the first set a winner, 26-24.
After dropping the first set by a close margin, the Mustangs knew they needed to adjust. The second started off the same, but great offensive plays from Phillips, Ashley Hagerty, and Hailey Young gave the Mustangs a rush of energy. After tying the game at 10, Westfall didn’t look back and took leads of 15-12, 18-14, and 22-17 before taking the second set at 25-20.
In the third, Phillips and her cohorts leaped out of the huddle to a 4-0 start. They led throughout the entire set, despite efforts from the Spartans to tie the score. The Mustangs went on to take set three by a 25-17 final, and with it, a 2-1 lead in the match.
“Our blocking was phenomenal today,” Phillips said. “We’ve been working hard in practice, and it really paid off.”
With the district title within reach, Westfall played set four with discipline.
Daniels, along with fellow senior Kayla Fleischmann, made some outstanding defensive plays. The Mustangs led by margins of 5-1, 13-7, and 17-9 throughout. Behind Phillips, Hagerty, and 2020 SVC POY Marissa Mullins in the front row, the Mustangs kept control of the match and took the set, 25-17.
Alexander finishes its season as sectional champions and a district runner-up. They also say goodbye to four seniors in Karsyn Raines, Brooke Casto, Jadyn Mace, and Erin Scurlock.
As for the Mustangs, they advance to the Division III regional semifinal where they will face conference rival Adena (21-1) on Thursday at Berne Union High School.
“We just need to keep being agressive at the net,” Fleischmann said. “We don’t want to let a single ball drop.”