Volleyball Struggles to Find Offense, Still Pushes No. 23 City to Limit

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (October 13, 2015) -- Despite hitting just .059 percent, the John Brown volleyball team (16-7, 6-3 SAC) managed to force No. 23 Oklahoma City into 36 attack errors to climb out of a 2-0 hole to push the Stars to a fifth game, but fell in the final set on Tuesday (Oct. 13) at Abe Lemons Arena (14-25, 18-25, 25-19, 25-18, 8-15).

Neither team hit well in the contest as John Brown was limited to -.067 percent in the first set against the conference-leading Stars. City started the game off hitting .307 percent through the first two periods, but was then limited to .054 percent in sets three and four. Finally, the Stars managed to break through in the fifth set, deny JBU its first five-set victory.

The Golden Eagles are now 0-4 in matches decided in five frames.

Senior Audrey Dearien produced 11 kills and 11 digs to earn a double-double, but seven attack errors limited JBU’s top hitter to a .111 attack percentage. Freshman Kennedy Shelstead stepped up with a career-high four kills on 10 attempts (.300 percent) and junior Karis Buff didn’t make an error and launched four kills on 12 attempts (.333 percent) in the losing effort.

Sophomore Alyssa Arnold assisted on 26 of JBU’s 28 kills and wrapped up a double-double with a team-high 14 digs. Senior Libby Blasingame recorded 1 solo block and three block-assists to lead the Golden Eagle rejection efforts.

With OCU dominating the first two sets and JBU controlling the third and fourth frames, City broke open to a 10-4 lead in the first that ballooned to 18-10 later in the set. The second set started out even closer with the teams tied at nine apiece, but an 11-3 City rally pulled the hosts to another decisive victory in the second.

That when the tide turned and John Brown pieced together two dominant sets of its own.

Again tied at nine each in the third, the Golden Eagles rode five Stars attack errors and a pair of aces from freshman Bayli Reagan to a 15-10 lead. City would eventually close to within one, 17-16, but Dearien recorded a kill and an ace to spark a needed 4-0 rally. Two more City miscues and an ace from freshman Bethany Maddox was followed by a Blasingame termination, wrapping up the third set for the visitors.

Shelstead helped kick off the fourth with a pair of kills and a slew of City errors continued to keep John Brown in the lead, 7-4. An ace from sophomore Beth Brankle and two Dearien smacks widened the game to six, 12-6. Totaling 12 errors in the fourth, City lofted JBU to a 19-11 lead and two more Dearien kills were followed by junior Molli Pugh’s set-clinching kill, forcing a fifth and decisive set.

Similar to the previous three matches that the Golden Eagles have gone to five, the opponent jumped out in front early. JBU quickly found itself in a 7-3 hole before two City errors allowed John Brown to pull within three, 8-5, the closest it would come. Six consecutive points from the hosts built a 14-5 lead and even three more Stars errors couldn’t bring JBU back to within contention down the stretch.

With the loss, JBU’s three conference defeats have come against the top two squads in the Sooner Athletic.

City featured a quartet of attackers in double-digit kills with Tori Leisure and Jami-Rae Renwick leading the way with 16 while Manon Soraru (15) and Fia Faa’agi (10) adding to the team’s 68 terminations on the evening. Heather Watson passed out 43 assists for the Stars and Soraru added two solo blocks and two block-assists in the victory. The Stars out-dug John Brown, 81-54, on the match.

JBU will return home for four consecutive matches, starting with a showdown with Lyon (Ark.) on Thursday (Oct. 15) at 6 p.m. The Scots previously handed JBU a 3-2 loss in Batesville, Ark., on Sept. 29.

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