Volleyball Faces Texas Wesleyan in Tournament Quarterfinals

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (November 14, 2014) -- By winning its last five matches of the regular season, and virtue of tiebreakers, the fourth-seeded John Brown volleyball team (22-10) will kick off Sooner Athletic Conference tournament play this afternoon against fifth-seeded Texas Wesleyan (14-18) at 1 p.m. in semifinal action.

Wayland Baptist (Texas) won the outright regular season championship and earned the right to host the tournament in Plainview, Texas. The winner of this afternoon’s match between the Golden Eagles and TWU will face the host Pioneers at 7 p.m. inside the Hutcherson Center.

John Brown slid into the fourth seed by sweeping past the Rams and Southwestern A.G. (Texas) on the final two days of the regular season, earning a tiebreaker over Wesleyan by winning the season series 2-0 as both squads finished the conference slate with 10-6 records. On the last day (Nov. 8), JBU won in straight sets over SAGU to knock the Lions back to an 8-8 SAC record and avoided another tiebreak situation. The win was even more important as the Rams, just a day after falling at John Brown, went into Oklahoma City and pulled out a 3-0 upset win over the Stars.

Against SAGU in the regular season finale, sophomore setter Shayna Daniels narrowly missed out on a double-double by recording a team-leading 20 assists and scooped up nine digs while serving up a match-best five aces. Junior outside hitter Audrey Dearien terminated a match-high 12 balls and also added four service aces in the win. A trio of Golden Eagles contributed six kills each in junior outside hitter Tiffany Hunnicutt, junior middle hitter Libby Blasingame and senior outside hitter Vanessa Uhrhahn.

JBU posted a .172 attack percentage on the afternoon (41-18-134) but, more importantly, left the visiting Lions in an offensive disarray that featured a mere .148 hitting percentage (30-13-115). In the first and third sets, John Brown limited to SAGU to a .089 and .057 percent on attack, respectively.

Senior defensive specialist Becca Young posted a game-high 21 digs while Hunnicutt and junior outside hitter Melissa Bakke each threw up a solo block in the 25-23, 25-19, 25-20, win.

Four players earned double-digit digs for the Lions, but no player was able to post more than six kills in the loss. Mollie McBride, Hannah Lewis and McKenzie Criddle each added six terminations, but 13 attack errors and only 30 kills left SAGU unable to capture a single set in the match.

Against OCU in its regular season finale, Shelby Stinnett led the Lady Rams with 11 kills while Abigail Zipoy posted 10 kills and 10 digs. Lynsay Buell tallied six kills and four blocks and Kristina Gafford notched 15 assists. Lauren Hamaker had 14 assists and nine digs in the match while Shaughnessy Hearn tacked 15 digs in the win.

The Golden Eagles will rely heavily on Dearien to make a strong postseason run. Dearien leads the team with 399 kills and currently ranks No. 32 in the nation in kills per set (3.50) and No. 34 nationally in total kills. The JBU service game hopes to be as strong as its numbers suggest. John Brown has posted 235 aces, which is 14th-best in the nation, powered by Daniels’ and Dearien’s 68 and 62 aces, which rank No. 2 and No. 6 in the nation, respectively.

JBU’s two wins over Texas Wesleyan came nearly a month apart, but the final result of a victory was the same. On Oct. 11 in Ft. Worth, Texas, John Brown pulled out a 15-9 fifth-set victory to break a then-two-game losing skid. Then on Nov. 7 at Bill George Arena, Bakke and Uhrhahn each contributed 10 kills in the Golden Eagles’ sweep.

As the hosts, Wayland Baptist University will feature live video and stats for the entirety of the tournament. The cost is $10 per match or $25 for a full tournament pass.

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