SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (October 15, 2014) -- Despite winning the first set, the Golden Eagles (14-8, 5-4 SAC) were tripped up in sets two through four, falling for the second time to Oklahoma City this season, this time by a 3-1 (25-22, 23-25, 17-25, 21-25) final tonight at Bill George Arena.
In a match that featured 27 ties, Oklahoma City pulled away in three of four stanzas late to slip out of Siloam Springs with its second-consecutive win.
“Obviously we’re all a bit disappointed that we lost tonight,” admitted head coach Ken Carver. “We had a good first set and, short of a few too many service errors, I felt we did a good job of executing our game plan and controlling the match. Unfortunately, we were not able to build off of the first set’s momentum and started slow the next three sets. If you eliminate the points we spotted OCU to start the second set, we actually out-played them the second two-thirds of that set in terms of points, but against a good team like that we cannot afford to give up that many points.
“OCU was very efficient with their offense tonight. While we were definitely close at times and played well against OCU, we needed to make adjustments at the net with our block to make it more effective to help slow down their offense. I’ll take the blame for not getting our players into a better position to be successful at the net. We take this match and learn from it and continue to work on the things we need to as we are in the process of attempting to move from being a good team to a great one.”
Junior outside hitter Audrey Dearien paced JBU with a team-high 16 kills and added a trio of service aces. Junior outside hitter Melissa Bakke also posted three aces and contributed 11 terminations while sophomore middle hitter Molli Pugh chipped in with 10 kills. Sophomore setter Shayna Daniels finished with a double-double, landing 11 digs while dishing out 20 assists. Freshman setter Alyssa Arnold came off the bench to post a match-high 21 helpers in the loss.
Junior outside hitter Libby Blasingame’s first kill of the match broke an 8-all tie in the first set, spurring John Brown on a 5-2 run. City would battle back, however, knotting the score at 17 apiece on a Bakke attack error. Back-to-back Star errors gave the Golden Eagles a short two-point advantage, 19-17. The two-point margin was enough for the hosts as kills from Pugh and junior outside hitter Tiffany Hunnicutt maintained the narrow lead before Dearien’s termination at 24-22 sealed the first-set victory for JBU.
In the first set, John Brown outhit the visitors by a .263 to .182 percent difference, but the three sets after saw City hit at a better rate than the Golden Eagles.
Consecutive JBU service errors allowed the Stars to jet out to a 9-3 lead in the second set. The lead wouldn’t hold long, however, as two Dearien aces fueled a 10-4 John Brown rally, finished with two City attacking errors that tied the set at 13 apiece. The squads were never separated by more than two points down the stretch. After a 20-20 score, JBU was able to pull ahead three straight times, twice off terminations from Dearien, but City had an answer each time. Knotted at 23, OCU’s Meghan Irwin landed consecutive kills for the set win.
The third set began much of the same, a quick OCU lead, followed by a Golden Eagle comeback. The Stars jumped out early to a 4-0 lead, but four City errors cost the visitors the lead as JBU tied the score at six. Down 12-10, John Brown allowed the Stars to run to a 7-3 rally, enough to keep JBU at bay for the remainder of the set.
A setting error allowed City to hang with the hosts, 5-5, and despite a 12-9 lead, JBU let the Stars climb back into a 13-13 tie on another Irwin termination. Five ties later at 19-19, Irwin’s kill pulled OCU into the lead for good, 20-19. The Golden Eagles could only manage to get to within one, 22-21, on a City attacking error.
“We’re not there yet, but have made really big strides this season,” Carver added. “I’m proud of our young ladies heart, determination and work effort. We’re a resilient bunch and I know we’ll get back into the gym tomorrow and be hungry to improve upon things we didn’t execute as well as we would have liked this evening and prepare for our next two opponents.
“A special note of thanks from me and our team goes out to our men’s rugby team for their support at tonight’s match. We greatly appreciate their ‘unique’ support each year, along with all of the rest of the student body, family members and fans from the local community who come out and support our team.”
The visitors posted a .306 hitting percentage in comparison to JBU’s .201 percent. The Golden Eagles managed one more service ace than City, 10-9, but committed 23 attacking errors, 11 more than OCU.
Irwin’s 21 kills led the entire match for Oklahoma City. Kristen Macy ended with 12 terminations. Taylor Chase also grabbed a double-double for City, contributing 18 assists and 10 digs in the win. Holly Randall rejected two JBU attacks while teammate Chazmin Franklin assisted on three blocks of her own. City owned an 8-1 team blocking advantage on the evening.
The Golden Eagles return to action on Friday (Oct. 17) when it hosts Mid-America Christian (Okla.) at Bill George Arena at 7 p.m.