Volleyball opens 2016 with sweep

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DENVER, Colo. -- The John Brown University volleyball team overcame a difficult hitting performance in game one two sweep through Benedictine at Mesa (Ariz.) and host Johnson & Wales (Colo.) to move to 2-0 after day one at the JWU Invitational.

The Golden Eagles (2-0) hit just .114 percent against Benedictine at Mesa (0-1), but used 20 block-assists, seven from sophomore Kennedy Shelstead, to take a 3-1 (25-23, 25-27, 25-23, 25-22) win. Senior Molli Pugh stepped up and delivered 11 kills and 15 digs for the double-double, while freshman Carly McKinney, in her first collegiate action, terminated nine and added 18 digs. Shelstead and freshman teammates Jessica Meyer and Megan Beck each contributed eight kills in the four-set victory.

After taking the first set, 25-23, the Redhawks knotted the match at one by erasing a 25-24 deficit. In the pivotal third set, when junior Alyssa Arnold launched a service ace to squeak out a 25-23 win.

Tied at 20 in the fourth set, kills from junior Bailei Brown, McKinney and Meyer staved off Mesa in the clinching frame.

Five players posted double-digit dig totals, led by junior Beth Brankle's 25. Arnold dug 12 Mesa attack attempts and dished out a team-best 25 assists, while freshman Elisabeth Williams added 21 assists in her college debut.

The Golden Eagle defense held Mesa to 33 errors and just a mere .108 attack percentage.

Offenses started to heat up in the second match against the host Wildcats, and JBU upped its pressure to the tune of .363 percent, limiting the tournament host to an anemic .165 percent.

McKinney posted her first collegiate double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs, including a pair of aces, while Meyer paced all players with 12 kills, hitting a perfect 1.000 percent on the match.

JWU put up a fight in the second set, but John Brown ran away with sets one and three to complete the sweep (25-18, 25-23, 25-16). In the final set of the night, the Golden Eagle offense clicked to the tune of .471 percent (18-2-34). This time, Williams posted 20 assists while Arnold passed out 18.

The Golden Eagles return to action on Saturday (Aug. 20) at 11 a.m. and will face Montana Western before facing Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) at 5 p.m. to complete tournament action.

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