After two sets, the eighth win in a row of Westminster volleyball looked secure. Until Fontbonne rallied.
Westminster won a thrilling five-set battle Monday at home against the Griffins (25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 17-25, 15-9) after Fontbonne surged in the third and fourth sets before just falling short in the deciding fifth set.
The first set was competitive until the conclusion of the frame, with Fontbonne owning late lead of 18-14 and then 22-20. A couple of kills by Eryka Wanyonyi helped dwindle the first lead and give Westminster (10-9, 6-1 SLIAC) a 20-19 lead before had an ace cap a 3-0 run. Wanyonyi and Claire Whitehouse led the Blue Jay run to close the set in Westminster's favor.
Fontbonne's quality of play dropped in the second set with its 11 errors that eventually fueled a 9-4 Westminster run to give the Blue Jays a 18-9 lead. Wanyonyi had three kills in the frame, including the set-winner, and Whitehouse had slapped down four.
Westminster trailed in the third set 14-11 before a 4-0 run capped by a couple of service aces by Sophie Reimer gave the Blue Jays a 15-14 lead. An 11-5 Griffins run assured a fourth set would be played as Fontbonne's attackers took charge.
It appeared Fontbonne's sloppy play returned in the fourth set as Westminster had an early 5-2 lead but eventually smoothed things out as a 7-0 run led to the Blue Jays trailing 13-8. A few more Fontbonne errors gave Westminster some life later in the set, as Fontbonne's lead was down to 18-17, but the Griffins wanted to play a fifth set.
Fontbonne (4-11, 3-4 SLIAC) grabbed the important early lead in the shorter fifth set at 4-1, but a Wanyoyi kill and Heather Ripperger service ace would cap a 5-1 run to give Westminster the lead it held onto until the end.
Wanyonyi led the Blue Jays with 15 kills while the senior Whitehouse finished with a career-high 11 kills, who led the team with a .348 hitting percentage. Gretchen Durbala led with 39 assists and 10 digs, trailing the digs team-leader Erica Schrader by two.
Westminster will host crosstown school William Woods (14-7) at 7 p.m. today. The Blue Jays will look for their first win against the Owls since 2001 after losing the last 10 meetings.