SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (August 22, 2015) -- Behind 27 kills and eight aces from senior Audrey Dearien, the Golden Eagles (1-1) split on the first day of the SAC/RRAC Clash, and have an opportuntity to finish the tournament with a 3-1 record as it faces Langston (Okla.) and St. Thomas (Texas) at the Sid Richardson Center in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Yesterday, JBU battled Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) in a three-set match that saw OLLU grab a pair of wins by two points apiece. Dearien easily posted a match-high 17 kills and completed the double-double with 14 digs. Sophomore Alyssa Arnold chipped in with a team-high 15 digs and threw around a match-best 25 helpers in the loss. Senior Melissa Bakke contributed six kills and 13 digs, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t overcome an anemic .084 hitting percentage, as the squad was plagued by 22 attack errors.
John Brown fell to the Saints, 3-0 (24-26, 27-29, 14-25), and looked to a matchup with Jarvis Christian (Texas) to even its record.
Respond the Golden Eagles did, by attacking at a .412 percent against the Bulldogs in a 25-11, 25-12, 25-12, clean-sheet win. Dearien again led the match with 10 kills but freshman Kennedy Shelstead also added nine terminations in the victory to accompany three blocks. Bakke and senior Libby Blasingame each threw down five kills apiece while Arnold assisted on a career-high 31 kills.
Today JBU will take on Langston (0-2) and St. Thomas (1-1) at 10 a.m. and and 2 p.m., respectively, to close out The Clash. Langston fell in straight sets to both Wayland Baptist (Texas) and Southwestern A.G. (Texas) while St. Thomas fell 3-1 to Wayland but responded with a 3-2 win over SAGU.
The Lions are led by Amber Warren, who totaled 230 kills and hit at a .196 percentage while throwing up 118 block assists in 2014. Alanna Lee also returns for Langston after a 2014 campaign that featured 110 kills. The Celts return Whitney Cornett's 155 kills and 92 blocks assists and also feature Kaitlynn Henson's 172 kills and 231 digs from the 2014 season.
Over the previous three seasons, John Brown has compiled a 10-4 (.714) mark against Red River Athletic Conference programs, including a 3-0 mark against Texas Wesleyan and Southwestern A.G. (Texas) when they were RRAC members prior to joining the Sooner Athletic Conference. Last year alone, JBU was a perfect 5-0 against RRAC teams, posting four 3-0 clean sheets.
SAC Preseason Rankings
The Golden Eagles were picked by SAC coaches to finish fourth in the final 2015 standings. JBU received one second-place vote, three third-place votes and three fourth-place votes. John Brown finished one point behind Texas Wesleyan (55) for a tie for third place.
The Golden Eagles return seven letterwinners from the 2014 campaign and welcome seven new faces this season. JBU returns All-Conference honorees in seniors Audrey Dearien (first team), Libby Blasingame (second team), Melissa Bakke (honorable mention) and junior Molli Pugh (honorable mention). Dearien became John Brown's first All-American in 2014 since Juliana Todescan was named to the NAIA's All-America third team in 2006. She also paced the Golden Eagles last season with 416 kills and contributed 370 digs, second-most on the squad. Blasingame and Bakke also return for their senior seasons as the front-row duo combined for 446 terminations, 176 and 270, respectively. Pugh tallied 186 kills last year but also threw up 62 total blocks, good enough for second-most on the team. JBU will have to work around three key losses in Shayna Daniels, Becca Young and Tiffany Hunnicutt. Daniels paced last year's team in assists (663) and aces (71) while Young racked up 487 digs, most of any player. Hunnicutt contributed 229 kills and 60 total blocks in 2014.
Live video and stats for both contests today and tomorrow will be provided by Texas Wesleyan University.