U turn: Westminster has come back from the brink and charged into the postseason
November 15, 2005
The Salt Lake Tribune
By Martin Renzhofer
How far has the Westminster College volleyball program come?
Two years ago, the Griffins won one match. This season, Westminster shook off a bad start to go 19-11 and capture the Frontier Conference championship.
Now, the Griffins have a chance to advance ever farther by hosting the six-team NAIA Region I Championship, which begins Thursday with pool play at 9 a.m. between No. 2 seed Northwest University and No. 5 Westminster.
"This team is a Cinderella trying to find the right shoe for the ball," Griffin coach Kim Norman said.
Only two teams from the Frontier Conference, Westminster and No. 6 seed Carroll College (15-15), qualified. They will play four Cascade Conference teams: No. 1 Southern Oregon (24-9), Northwest (25-3), No. 3 Albertson (Idaho) (21-5) and fourth-seeded Oregon Tech (17-11).
Friday's semifinals are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., with Saturday's championship match set for 2 p.m. Teams qualified by either winning the regular season or conference tournament, or with a top-six ranking.
"I am ecstatic with our team," Norman said. "We were picked to finish dead last in this league. This is a remarkable feat considering we have primarily freshmen and sophomores getting the job done."
The Griffins began 2005 by losing nine of their first 11 matches. However, in a turnaround led by front-line players Angie Johnson and Celestial Alofipo and setter Monica Shorts, Westminster went 17-2 the rest of the way.
"This has been a dream team," said Norman, in her second season. "I like it a lot. We rely on our strength as a team. We've got good players, but not one that is an All-American.
"We've played 165 games this year and it is starting to show."