GameDay: Volleyball at Oklahoma Baptist

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (October 31, 2014) -- Winners in three of its last four, the Golden Eagle volleyball team (17-9, 7-5 SAC) will look to continue conference play this evening when it faces No. 23 Oklahoma Baptist (21-10, 11-2 SAC) at the Noble Complex in Shawnee, Okla.

Six days ago on Saturday (Oct. 25), junior outside hitter Audrey Dearien pounded 15 kills to reach the 1,000 termination mark in her career, but John Brown couldn’t sweep the season series with No. 22 Wayland Baptist (Texas), falling 3-0 (23-25, 16-25, 22-25) at the Hutcherson Center.

John Brown got the best of the Pioneers when the two teams met a month ago in Siloam Springs, winning in upset fashion in four sets. Baptist kept JBU from earning a set victory in the first by fending off a Golden Eagle comeback bid, in the second by breaking open a close battle midway through and in the third by finishing off a come-from-behind effort.

After finishing just one kill shy of a personal goal, Dearien finally achieved her mark by converting a kill from sophomore setter Shayna Daniels in the first set as the Pioneers maintained a 6-3 lead. Baptist continued a four or five point advantage throughout the majority of the set until WBU held a 24-18 lead that it would certainly finish in easy fashion. Instead, a Dearien kill jump-started a JBU rally that featured another pair of Dearien terminations and a kill from junior outside hitter Libby Blasingame. A Cindy Horn attack error for Baptist pulled John Brown back all the way to 24-23. The rally was cut short, however, when Chelsey Driskill ended the first set with a kill, handing set one to the Pioneers.

The second set was a back-and-forth affair that saw Wayland take an early 7-2 lead. A Dearien kill ended the Pioneers’ early run and propelled John Brown on a 12-7 rally, fueled by four WBU errors, to knot the set at 14 apiece. It was all Wayland from there, however, as the Pioneers finished off the set turning a 6-0 rally into an 11-2 run to capture set two, 25-16.

With Daniels serving, JBU jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third set on a pair of kills from sophomore middle hitter Molli Pugh, prompting an early timeout by the Pioneers. A third Pugh termination would eventually balloon the advantage to 8-2 in favor of the visitors, John Brown’s largest lead of the match, but slowly, Wayland began to climb back into the set. Senior outside hitter Vanessa Uhrhahn’s second kill of the set kept the Golden Eagles on top, 14-10, but a pair of kills from the nation’s top kill-leader, Shahala Hawkins, plus a tandem of JBU errors allowed Baptist to pull even at 16-16. Timely as ever, Dearien responded with back-to-back terminations and an Alyssa Arnold service ace rebuilt the Golden Eagle lead to three, 19-16.

The offense would sputter a bit, however, as two attacking errors allowed WBU to tie the set at 19 before another JBU miscue deadlocked the score at 20-20. Down the stretch, Wayland would out-score John Brown 5-2 as kills from junior outside hitter Melissa Bakke and Pugh wouldn’t be enough, allowing the hosts to claim the set, 25-22, and the match, 3-0.

While both teams completed the match with 39 kills apiece, the Pioneers were much more efficient with a .214 attack percentage (39-15-112), compared to JBU’s .130 percent (39-22-131). The Wayland defense picked up 63 digs while John Brown managed just 50. Service errors continued to plague the Golden Eagles as the squad racked up eight miscues from the line in the loss.

Dearien led all hitters in the match with 15 kills while Bakke and Pugh each contributed seven. Dearien completed the double-double with a team-leading 10 digs. Daniels ended the match with a team-best 18 assists while her counterpart Arnold chipped in with 13 and a pair of aces from the line.

The Bison enter today's matchup with a 7-3 record at the Noble Complex and feature a well-rounded team that ranks No. 14 in the nation in digs per set (18.09) and No. 30 in kills per set (12.79). OBU has faltered as of late, however, losing three of its last four matches. One defeat came at Oklahoma City before a pair of losses to NCAA II programs on Oct. 25.

Denise Coroiescu leads the Bison in kills with 183 while teammate Kate Decker has chipped in with 153 on the season. The OBU offense runs through setter Ezgi Guney, who has 801 assists to her credit. Coroiescu and Decker also form Baptist's formidable blocking duo, posting 31 and 30 rejections, respectively, in 2014.

The match will feature live video and stats, for a fee, courtesy of Oklahoma Baptist University.

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