Seniors Lead Golden Eagles Past SAGU in Sweeping Fashion

Press Release Photo
Melissa Bakke (15) smacks one of her 11 kills against SAGU.

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (September 26, 2015) -- Seniors Melissa Bakke, Audrey Dearien and Libby Blasingame each posted double-digit kills and the John Brown volleyball team (12-5, 2-2 SAC) picked up its second Sooner Athletic victory of the week in a 3-0 (25-19, 25-11, 26-24) victory over Southwestern A.G. (Texas) on Saturday (Sept. 26) afternoon inside Bill George Arena.

For the first time this year, all three JBU seniors posted over 10 kills with Bakke pacing the offense at 11 kills while Dearien and Blasingame each added 10 in the victory. The trio attacked at a .283 percent rate and also contributed a combined six blocks. Dearien completed the match with a double-double, adding a game-high 17 digs. Joining Dearien in double digits were sophomores Alyssa Arnold (14) and Beth Brankle (11) while Arnold completed her double-double by lofting a match-high 35 assists.

The Golden Eagles were never really threatened by the Lions (12-4, 4-1) which entered the contest with an undefeated record in conference play. SAGU’s lone lead was at 2-1 in the first set, which was quickly countered with a serving error and Bakke’s first of 11 kills on the afternoon.

“Really proud of our team in picking up our second conference win of the season is a span of less than 24 hours,” noted head coach Ken Carver. “Our focus and effort was good from the start today which was one of the things we talked about after last night’s match against Texas Wesleyan. Our first-ball contact was much better and it allowed Alyssa to spread out our offense.

“Beth covered a lot of ground at times in the back row chasing balls down and keeping them in play for our team. Our block did a good job of looking to block terminate balls tight to the net as well. It was a well-rounded effort by our team and one that gets us back to .500 in conference. We’ll look to take these two crucial wins and the momentum into next week when we face Lyon College and then two more conference foes to end the week.”

The John Brown defense recorded a combined four solo blocks and teamed up for 10 assisted rejections, helping keep the Lions to a mere .112 percent rate (33-19-125) on offense as the Golden Eagles recorded 67 digs on the afternoon.

Down 2-1 early in the first set, Bakke delivered a pair of kills and junior Molli Pugh served up her lone ace of the afternoon to spur a 6-0 run by the hosts. The margin held for the majority of the set until Blasingame and Dearien posted back-to-back terminations and was followed by one of two Bakke aces, handing JBU a 24-15 lead. A couple of errors and a pair of kills from SAGU’s Kali Shaw postponed the win momentarily, but Dearien smacked the set-winner from Arnold to complete the 25-19 win.

A trio of kills from Bakke and Blasingame broke open and early tie and sent John Brown to an early 10-4 lead in the second period. The Lions would crawl back to within four, 12-8, but a pair of kills from Pugh and Bakke’s second ace grew the lead back to seven, 15-8. From there it was all Golden Eagles, ignited by seven Lion errors. With a 19-11 lead, Arnold and Blasingame threw up a block that vaulted JBU to the set-ending 7-0 run.

The third set was a close affair as the Golden Eagles were able to send some reserves into the contest. In the final set alone, sophomore Bailei Brown added a pair of kills while freshmen Bayli Reagan and Bethany Maddox combined for 10 digs.

Littered with five ties, Pugh and Bakke alternated a pair of kills for a four-point lead, 16-12. A 4-0 response from SAGU brought the visitors within one, 20-19, until a Bakke and back-to-back Dearien smacks provided a four-point cushion, 23-19. At match point, SAGU retaliated with three consecutive kills to knot the score at 24.

Finally, Dearien’s 10th termination was followed by SAGU’s 19th attack error, ending the dramatic third set.

Kali Shaw paced Southwestern A.G. with nine kills while Summer Skillern added five in the loss. Three Lions finished in double-digit digs, led by Caitlin Paschall’s 11.

The Golden Eagles will now reset for a non-conference matchup with Lyon (Ark.) on Tuesday (Sept. 29) at 6 p.m. in Batesville, Ark.

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