SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (October 4, 2014) -- The two top programs in the Sooner Athletic Conference face off this morning when No. 15 Oklahoma Baptist (15-6, 5-0 SAC) invades the friendly confines of Bill George Arena at 11 a.m., where the Golden Eagles (13-4, 4-1 SAC) are a perfect 4-0 this season.
In its last outing on Tuesday (Sept. 30), John Brown had to grind through two of three sets before pulling off a 3-0 (25-19, 25-10, 28-26) win 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.
The Bison will serve as JBU’s most formidable opponent to date. Oklahoma Baptist has rattled off six-consecutive victories dating back to Sept. 15 and are currently ranked No. 15 in the nation. Its last loss came on Sept. 13 when it fell by a 3-0 score to reigning national champions, Texas at Brownsville.
OBU enters tonight’s match having won 51-consecutive Sooner Athletic Conference matches, dating back to Sept. 23, 2010, when Baptist lost a 3-2 match in Shawnee to Lubbock Christian.
Priscila Mendes paces the Bison on offense with 179 kills while Denise Coroiescu and Cadyn Laing have chipped in with 139 and 134, respectively. OBU runs its offense through setter Ezgi Guney, who has posted 459 assists to date. Counterpart Kate Decker has accumulated 274 helpers.
Valerie Stetzer (286) and Kaitlyn Lucy (234) lead Baptist in digs. Lucy’s 30 service aces also lands her at No. 38 in the nation in total aces.
Live video and stats, courtesy of JBUathletics.com, will be available for this morning's tilt.