Dearien, Pugh Help Golden Eagles Hit Way to Eighth-Straight Win

Press Release Photo
Molli Pugh (21) launches one of her two services aces on the night. Pugh also kicked in a team-leading 12 kills to help John Brown notch its eighth-straight win. (Courtesy of Williams Baptist College).

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (September 8, 2015) -- Senior Audrey Dearien and junior Molli Pugh each finished with 12 kills, and the John Brown volleyball team (8-1) rallied to win the final three sets in a 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-23, 25-22) win in a season sweep of Williams Baptist (Ark.) and captured its eighth-straight victory on Tuesday (Sept. 8) inside the Southerland-Mabee Center.

The last time the Golden Eagles pieced together such a seven-game win streak was back in 2012. The streak began with a 3-1 win over Benedictine (Kan.) on Sept. 7 and finished with a 3-1 victory over Southwestern A.G. (Texas) on Sept. 14. The streak was broken by Wiley (Texas) in a 3-1 decision on Sept. 15.

Dearien landed in double-figure terminations for the ninth time this season while Pugh’s season-high 12 spikes accompanied a match-leading six block-assists. Dearien completed the double-double with 10 digs in the victory.

After starting out the match with a .152 hitting percentage in the first set, the JBU offense posted impressive numbers to turn the match around. Set two featured a .591 percent hitting clip, followed by a .308 percent mark in the third. While the first and fourth sets were below .200 percent, the Golden Eagles finished the contest with a .277 percent mark (47-16-112) while host Williams Baptist (4-2) hit .214 percent in the loss.

In a back-and-forth first set, the Eagles broke open a 19-all tie and rallied on a 5-0 run. A Pugh kill and a WBC error brought JBU back to within three, 24-21, but the Eagles used a Shelby Wallace termination to close out the first set.

The second set was littered with five early ties before an 8-2 John Brown rally broke open the set. A pair of kills from Dearien and senior Melissa Bakke helped key the rally that turned a 9-9 tie into a 17-11 advantage for the visitors. Two more aces, from Bakke and sophomore Alyssa Arnold, and a duo of terminations from Dearien quickly ended the 25-15 set.

Rallies from both teams highlighted the third set as JBU took a 17-14 lead after a 12-12 tie. Williams Baptist responded and took the lead, 23-20. Kills from Dearien and Pugh kept JBU in the set until three straight WBC errors preluded a timely strike from Bakke. A final error by the hosts allowed John Brown to climb all the way back from three points down to end the set on a 5-0 run, claiming the third set.

An early 10-7 lead for Williams Baptist began the final set. Two Pugh kills and aces from Dearien and Arnold vaulted JBU into an 11-all deadlock. After taking a momentary lead, WBC had to contend with kills from Pugh, senior Libby Blasingame and junior Karis Buff which propelled the visitors back into a 16-13 lead, one it would not relinquish. Up 23-17 after Pugh’s 12th termination of the match, the hosts rallied to within two, 23-21, but back-to-back attack errors doomed Williams Baptist’s comeback bid.

Arnold tossed around a match-high 42 assists, marking consecutive matches in which she surpassed the 40-assist mark. She now averages 9.97 assists per set and has 299 on the season, already 62 percent of her 2014 output in which she averaged only 4.05 assists per set.

Bakke ended the evening with nine kills while she and Pugh, Arnold and freshman Elizabeth Bjornsen each served up a pair of aces as JBU finished with 11 on the night. Buff added five kills and four block assists and sophomore Beth Brankle chipped in with a team-leading 10 digs in the victory.

Kaillie Rolston notched a match-high 16 kills and hit at a .419 percent in the loss as Madison Laubach and Harley Strayhorn each added eight terminations for Williams Baptist. Jessica Baugh finished with a match-high 11 digs.

John Brown returns to action on Friday (Sept. 11) when it faces Central Baptist (Ark.) at the Evangel (Mo.) tournament, held in Springfield, Mo. JBU will face the Mustangs at 1 p.m. before taking on William Woods (Mo.) at 7 p.m. on the first day of action.

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