Golden Eagles Emerge with 3-0 Win in Slugfest with Cavaliers

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (September 30, 2014) -- John Brown (13-5, 4-1 SAC) had to grind through two of three sets before pulling off a 3-0 (25-19, 25-10, 28-26) win tonight over St. Gregory’s (Okla.) at Bill George Arena.

“It was good to come out and follow up our big win against Wayland Baptist last Friday with another conference win tonight,” head coach Ken Carver said. “I especially like having our team play with the extra enthusiasm and fan noise that the Beta Upsilon Chi men brought to our match tonight. Their energy, coupled with our fans, made it a great environment to play in and really helped boost our energy on the court at pivotal times during the course of the last set.

“We didn’t know a whole lot of what to expect from St. Gregory’s tonight, so our main focus was to play the game and work on being consistent with the areas we have been stressing a lot recently.”

Junior outside hitter Audrey Dearien posted her second-consecutive double-double, finishing with a match-high 12 kills and 11 digs. She also added three of JBU’s 12 service aces. Junior outside hitter Tiffany Hunnicutt added 10 kills while middle hitters Molli Pugh and Melissa Bakke each added six apiece. Senior defensive specialist Becca Young notched a team-high 18 digs as the John Brown defense held the Cavaliers (5-13, 1-4 SAC) to a mere .010 attack percentage on the evening.

Despite owning the lead the entirety of the first set, including multiple five-point advantages, the Golden Eagles allowed SGU to make a 7-3 run at 17-12, forcing just a one-point lead for the hosts, 20-19. Back-to-back kills from Bakke reignited the JBU offense as Pugh’s ace led to consecutive Cavalier errors, allowing John Brown to close off the set on a 5-0 run.

Just after St. Gregory’s grabbed its first lead of the match at 2-1 in the second set, a pair of Hunnicutt terminations kick-started a 9-1 Golden Eagle rally that was continued by numerous errors by the visitors. Six different JBU players recorded kills as the lead grew to nine, 19-10, until sophomore setter Shayna Daniels’ serving prompted JBU to a set-closing 7-0 run.

Despite taking a 9-4 lead in set three, the Cavaliers came back to knot the set at 9-9. The two teams would battle through six more ties before consecutive SGU points knotted the score again at 23. Freshman Bailei Brown’s tip momentarily gave John Brown the advantage, but the Cavaliers would stave off two more match points before Tiphani Funk’s kill gave the visitors a 26-25 lead. Hunnicutt’s kill from Daniels’ knotted the score and consecutive Cavalier errors handed over the set and the match to John Brown.

Cierra Mullins paced the Cavaliers with six kills, but SGU hit poorly overall, recording just 20 kills in comparison to 19 attack errors. Daniella Rivera collected a match-high 19 digs in the loss.

“While Audrey and Tiffany, once again, led our team in number of kills and attack efficiency, I am really pleased by the fact that our offense is pretty diverse and we can go to more than just one or two players to get the necessary offensive production we need to win a match,” Carver added. “Tonight we were able to get all of our players some time on the court in front of our home fans and that is always a good thing as well.

”Overall, it was another win in conference and some more momentum for our team heading into a very big match this Saturday morning against Oklahoma Baptist. This, by far, will be the biggest challenge to date of our season. I think I read somewhere OBU currently holds a 50-match win streak in conference play and coupled with the fact they are currently ranked 15th in the country and undefeated in conference play makes them a very formidable opponent. They’re a really good team and we will have to play a very consistent match with a high degree of execution to be in the match.”

John Brown will look to end Oklahoma Baptist’ mastery of the Sooner Athletic Conference on Saturday (Oct. 4) when the Bison make its way to Bill George Arena for an 11 a.m. first serve.

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