John Brown Rattles Off Sixth-Straight Conference Win
SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (October 8, 2015) -- Senior Libby Blasingame hit a single-match career high .706 percent, throwing down a match-high 12 kills, as the John Brown volleyball team (16-6, 6-2 SAC) ran past Bacone (Okla.) in straight sets (25-15, 25-12, 25-20) on Thursday (Oct. 3) night inside Bill George Arena.
With the win, JBU has now strung together three-straight sweeps as the first round of Sooner Athletic play came to a close. After starting out 0-2 in league play, the Golden Eagles have rattled off six-straight and sit alone in third place in the standings.
“Tonight was another good win and a great way to close out our first round of conference play,” said head coach Ken Carver. Bacone was a bit of an unknown for us as we didn’t get to see any film prior to our match. We knew by looking at their statistics to date that there were two players on their roster we were going to have to defend against and overall I thought we did a fairly decent job. Neither of them could get on a roll and score a lot of points consistently.”
Along with 12 kills, Blasingame posted two solo rejections in the victory. Senior Audrey Dearien helped out with 11 kills and continued her NAIA-leading ace output with five, just missing out on the double-double with nine digs. Sophomore Alyssa Arnold inched closer to taking the lead among all SAC setters with 35 assists while junior Karis Buff didn’t commit an error, launching seven kills on eight attempts (.875 percent).
“Our first line of defense came from the service line, so to be able to get 13 service aces speaks to a good execution of our game plan,” Carver added. “While we did give up six reception errors on the night, I felt our first-ball contact was good and allowed Alyssa to run a balanced attack, evidenced by having two attackers and two sets above .500 percent.
“We were once again able to get all of our players some playing time throughout the match as well, so that is always a plus for our team to continue to build our team depth. The next two weeks we’ll have to work on continuing to raise the level of our game and will determine if we can break through into the top of our conference standings.”
Bacone (0-19, 0-8 SAC) managed just 20 kills on the evening, paced by six apiece from Julianne Tuiolosega and Gladymar Echeverria. The Golden Eagle defense held the Warriors to a mere .127 attack percentage and accumulated 35 digs and three solo blocks in the victory. JBU responded with hitting .500 percent in the first two sets to finish with a .357 percent average.
Freshmen Brittany Ayers and Kennedy Shelstead came off the bench to provide three kills in the win. Senior Melissa Bakke launched five terminations and tracked down a team-leading 10 digs.
The Golden Eagles will now gear up for a difficult week where it faces three opponents that have already handed JBU a loss on the season. On Tuesday (Oct. 13), John Brown travels to Oklahoma City before taking on Lyon (Ark.) at Bill George Arena on Thursday (Oct. 15). On Saturday (Oct. 17), JBU welcomes Wayland Baptist (Texas) and Ozarks (Mo.) in triangular action, set to start at 10:30 a.m.
“We’ve already talked about next week being our ‘Redemption Week Tour’ as we will have the opportunity to face three of the teams that have beaten us this season and then a very good opponent in College of the Ozarks,” Carver admitted. “Having the good fortune of being on this winning streak, I’m hopeful we’ll take this momentum and confidence into next week and be ready to take our game to another level.
“I feel we’ve been playing well and in a lot of ways we’re ahead of where we were last year, but we’re still looking to consistently play at this other “gear” that we have but haven’t shown consistently to date. I’m proud of all of the hard work these young ladies have put into this point in the season and they’re to be commended for the results they’ve been able to achieve so far.”
Carver also attributed to the quick sweep this evening to an especially loud Bill George Arena.
“I want to thank the Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity from the University of Arkansas for coming down and creating a loud and exciting atmosphere for our team to play in tonight. It’s always great to have them here and have our gym’s fan volume taken to a whole other level.”