WILLIAMSPORT — As the lone senior on Westfall’s roster, Josie Williams did what seniors are supposed to do Thursday night in a key Scioto Valley Conference match.
Time and time again, when she was called upon to do so, Williams stepped into her assigned leadership role and acted as a calming force in the face of a major storm.
Williams’ performance, alongside the always tough-to-stop Kristin Phillips, led the Mustangs to a huge four-set win over visiting Adena — 25-13, 26-28, 27-25 and 25-17.
The victory allows Westfall to improve to 9-1 overall and 6-0 in the conference … two games better than their closest competitor.
“This win is one that … it feels so good. Adena is always tough and that’s a team that’s always going to play tough defense with great passing, great serve receive and aggressive, smart play,” Westfall coach Jessica Rodgers-Sullivan said. “For the girls to win in four, it says a lot about them. I can’t say enough about them. They have worked so hard to get where they are. I’m just so proud of them.”
In Thursday’s first set, Williams made it known early that her presence would be a factor. After the senior logged back-to-back kills, giving Westfall a 14-7 lead, Lauren Daniels served up an ace and Phillips later followed suit, extending the lead to 18-8 before the Mustangs took a 1-0 match lead.
“Josie stepped up tonight,” Rodgers-Sullivan said. “She always plays well from the back row but today, she played big in the front row. We would not have had this win without her there. Then Lauren, oh my gosh. Again, her serve is always very good. But tonight, she had a little something extra on it. She really leads out there by how she plays.”
The second, however, told a much different story.
After shooting out to a 9-3 lead, Westfall allowed Adena to rip off a 10-0 run behind sisters Makenna and Makaela Lovely. From that point on, the set was a see-saw affair. Westfall took a 22-21 lead, but Adena retook the edge at 23-22 and volleyed until it squeaked out a 28-26 win.
With the match tied 1-1, Williams and sophomore Marissa Mullins led the Mustangs on a 7-0 run midway through the third to give themselves a 20-16 lead. The Warriors fought back to tie the game at 23-23 but with the game tied 25-25, Phillips logged back-to-back kills to end the set.
The fourth belonged to the Mustangs from the beginning as the team never trailed.
Phillips was active early, pacing her teammates to a 10-5 advantage … a lead that grew to 18-12 before Westfall put the Warriors away for good.
“I think we worked really well together,” Mullins said. “We were really big at the net and we were able to get a couple of big blocks. Our back row stepped it up tonight, we got a lot of passes, and Josie and [setter] Claire [Latham] were really good.”
Williams led the Mustangs with 24 kills and 26 digs while Phillips added 23 kills and 19 digs. Daniels also had a big night, finishing with three aces, 13 serving points and 20 digs. Latham ended the night with 31 assists.
“Tonight was huge for us, especially to prove that we can be at the top of the league,” Williams said. “We’re still undefeated in the league and everybody else has at least two losses. That gives us an even bigger advantage than we had before. I really had to step up tonight. I knew we needed to bring the ball down and I just tried to find open spots.”
The Mustangs are back in action Tuesday, finishing the first half of conference play at Zane Trace.
“It going to take aggressive play from point one until that first set is won,” Rodgers-Sullivan said. “We just have to stay smart, we have to stay disciplined, and we have to do our jobs individually. It’s going to take being on our toes, being ready for anything. There’s not an easy night in the SVC.”