SHAWNEE, Okla. (August 22, 2014) -- The John Brown volleyball program (2-0) began the season today with a pair of impressive sweeps, taking out St. Thomas (Texas) and Tabor (Kan.) handily, at the Oklahoma Baptist Invitational.
The Golden Eagles opened play with St. Thomas (1-1) and featured a well-balanced offensive attack, resulting in a .468 hitting percentage. John Brown captured a 3-0 (29-27, 25-14, 25-18) win.
Each starter accumulated at least three kills as junior Melissa Bakke led the squad with a match-high nine, followed by dual-threat sophomore Shayna Daniels, who posted eight kills, nine assists and five service aces. Junior Audrey Dearien added six kills and four service aces while junior Tiffany Hunnicutt notched five kills and a trio of block-assists.
The Celts struggled to respond to the JBU offensive attack, hitting just .129 percent in the match. Fourteen attack errors handcuffed UST as the staunch John Brown blocking effort resulted in 7.5 rejections.
Freshman Alyssa Arnold pieced together an impressive collegiate debut, dishing out nine assists and five aces. Sophomore Molli Pugh tacked on a team-high five digs.
The second match of the day pitted the Golden Eagles against Tabor later in the evening. The Golden Eagle blocking and defense continued to hold its opposition in check, allowing the Bluejays just a .194 hitting percentage, including a .115 percent outing in the first set.
Dearien posted a match-high 14 kills and a team-high nine digs in the victory. JBU’s passing game turned in stellar numbers as Daniels and Arnold earned 24 and 17, respectively. Bakke finished off an 18-kill day with nine more, while contributing nine digs.
Sporting just a mere one point lead in the first set, 14-13, Bakke’s kill from Daniels sparked a 4-0 run that featured rally-enders from four different attackers. Three costly Tabor errors, coupled with a Dearien ace and a Bakke kill ended the first set in favor of JBU, 25-18.
A pair of Daniels kills allowed the Golden Eagles to take a brief 13-8 lead in game two, but the Bluejays would score five consecutive points to even the set at 13. After a trio of ties, kills from Hunnicutt and junior Libby Blasingame offered a small cushion before back-to-back Golden Eagle attacking errors knotted the score for a fourth time at 22 apiece. Finally, John Brown was able to escape the set when three-straight Tabor errors handed JBU a 25-22 win.
The third set featured a sizable hole for the Golden Eagles. Down 8-2 early, JBU was able to trade points on and off with the Bluejays until the score reached 14-8. Consecutive Dearien kills closed the gap a little further until Tabor allowed John Brown back into the match. Four errors and a Blasingame kill vaulted the Golden Eagles to within one, 16-15, until the errors began to favor Tabor.
Facing a 20-16 deficit, Blasingame and Bakke took advantage of a pair of Bluejay errors, knotting the score at 20. Dearien, who finished the set with six strikes, then took the game over with a pair of kills, turning 23-22 Tabor lead into a 25-23 Golden Eagle victory for the sweep.
The Golden Eagles will return to action tomorrow with another pair of matches on the slate. JBU will first face Hastings (Iowa) at 9 a.m., which is receiving votes in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll, and will have to turn around to take on Wiley (Texas) immediately afterwards at 11:15 a.m.