Westfall Mustangs volleyball
John Bruce

John Bruce

Westfall sweeps Huntington to punch Sweet 16 tickets

The district title marks the 17th in program history.

John Bruce, Staff Writer

WAVERLY — In the rubber match between Westfall and Huntington, two teams chalked full of outstanding seniors, it would be a pair of underclassmen that gave the Mustangs momentum needed to earn a season-advancing sweep.

Westfall’s Marissa Mullins ended Saturday’s district final with 17 kills and 14 digs, leading her Mustangs to a sweep of Huntington.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

Each squad won a regular season match by a 3-1 final, so many in attendance expected a fairly even matchup. Those fans would be incorrect as the Mustangs (21-4) made quick work of the Huntsmen (18-7) in a Division III district final by a 25-22, 25-14, 25-19 score to punch their Sweet 16 tickets.

“We’ve really been working on pressing and closing the blocks,” Westfall senior Marissa Mullins said. “We just have our defense playing where it needs to play. With big middles like [Huntington’s] Carly [Dyer] and Allison [Basye], we try to double-block them the best that we can.”

In the opening set, it would be the usual suspects for each team that made it a back-and-forth affair. Huntington’s Megan Steele, Basye and Dyer led the attack with Harmony Henneberger leading the defense. 

Huntington was very competitive, even leading 21-20 late in the set, but Mullins and teammates Hailey Young and Claire Latham were eventually too much to handle. 

With the set tied at 21-21, it appeared that Huntington took the lead back after a kill, but it would be taken off the board due to a called push instead of a hit. 

It was the right call, but the Huntsmen never recovered from it. Westfall won three of the next four points to take the opening set, 25-22, and a 1-0 lead in the match.

In the second, the Mustangs were forced to take a timeout after a rotation error caused them to trail 3-1. However, following the timeout, they rolled to a 14-9 lead behind Young at the net. The senior put down multiple kills to boost her teammates, eventually forcing the Huntsmen to call timeout when down 17-13. 

It was then Lauryn Blackburn’s time to shine. 

PHOTOS: Images from Westfall’s win over Huntington

Blackburn, a sophomore, notched three kills over the Mustangs’ final eight points. With each kill, the Mustang faithful began to get louder, finally hitting their crescendo when Blackburn found the floor with a crafty hit down the left sideline to seal a 25-14 win.

“I couldn’t have done it without all of my teammates,” Blackburn said. “The energy was building up and everyone was telling me to swing line. Once I started doing that, I really started hammering the ball. It kept giving us momentum and excitement.”

Early in the third, Basye, Steele and Emma Hinshaw kept the Huntsmen within striking distance. But Blackburn, Young and Mullins responded each time that Huntington made a run. 

Eventually, the Mustangs overpowered the Huntsmen and finished the match off by winning the third and final set, 25-19. 

Mullins logged 17 kills and 14 digs on the night while Young finished with eight kills. Blackburn and Ashley Hegarty each had seven kills while Madi Brown and Ava Heath tallied 12 and eight digs each. Claire Latham also chipped in with 30 assists and six digs.

With the win, Westfall secures their 17th district title as a program and its second straight.

The Mustangs will next take on the Wheelersburg Pirates, who are 3-0 versus the SVC thus far this season. That game will take place on Wednesday at Logan High School, following Adena’s regional semifinal matchup with Fort Frye. 

“We definitely need to watch some film because we haven’t played [Wheelersburg] this year,” Mullins said. “We got to watch a little bit of [Wheelersburg’s win over Zane Trace] and we know they have a big middle. So we’ll probably work on that at practice and go from there.”

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