SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (August 28, 2015) -- After dropping its first match of the season against Our Lady of the Lake (Texas), the John Brown volleyball team rallied to finish its first weekend of play at 3-1, and will now head to Houston, Texas, for a trio of matchups at a tournament hosted by St. Thomas (Texas).
The Golden Eagles will first face Southwestern (Kan.) today (Aug. 28) at 3 p.m. before taking on Wiley (Texas) tomorrow at 8 a.m. followed by a final matchup with Southwest (N.M.) at noon.
The Moundbuilders (1-1) are coming off a victory over Hillsdale Freewill Baptist (Okla.) on Aug. 26 after absorbing a season-opening loss to Stephens (Mo.) earlier in the day. Chasity Clark racked up 18 kills and five blocks in the two matches while Abby Warnke slammed 12 kills at a .391 hitting percentage rate.
Wiley enters tournament play with a 1-0 record after dispatching Philander Smith (Ark.) by a 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-21) final on Aug. 26. No statistics were reported for the contest. Southwest carries a four-match losing skid to start the season into the tournament, having most recently taken a 3-2 loss to York (Neb.) at the Sterling (Kan.) tournament. In its three prior matches, the Mustangs fell in straight sets. USW is paced by Paulyae Dawkins' 24 kills and five service aces. She also has 18 blocks recorded on the season.
Last Time Out
In the final match of the SAC/RRAC Clash on Aug. 22, the JBU defense held St. Thomas (Texas) to a mere .019 hitting percentage (26-24-103) while senior Audrey Dearien's match-high 14 kills powered John Brown to a .308 hitting mark (40-12-91) in the sweeping effort (25-17, 25-19, 25-16).
Sophomore Alyssa Arnold, for the second day in a row, set a career-high, this time with 34 assists. This bests her previous mark, set yesterday, by three. Senior Melissa Bakke contributed 13 kills while senior Libby Blasingame added seven terminations and a match-best five block-assists.
Over the previous three seasons, John Brown has compiled a 12-4 (.750) mark against Red River Athletic Conference programs. At the St. Thomas (Texas) tournament, the Golden Eagles will face two more Red River Athletic Conference opponents in Wiley and Southwest. JBU has won two of its last three against Wiley.
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 stats for all weekend contests will be provided by the University of St. Thomas.