Seniors Lead Golden Eagles in Valiant Effort; JBU Drops Tournament Semis at Wayland

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PLAINVIEW, Texas -- The trio of Libby Blasingame, Audrey Dearien and Melissa Bakke posted 37 of JBUs 49 kills, but top-seeded Wayland Baptist (Texas) countered with 21 kills from All-American Shahala Hawkins as the fourth-seeded John Brown volleyball team (22-15) dropped a 3-1 (25-22, 13-25, 18-25, 18-25) decision in the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament semifinals on Wednesday (Nov. 11) night inside the Hutcherson Center.

While the Golden Eagles seniors combined to smack 37 terminations, 24 attack errors kept the John Brown hitting in check, finishing the game at .153 percent (49-24-163). JBUs best hitting came in the first period, a .295 percent clip, but dipped to .000 and .111 percent in the second and third, respectively, as the host Pioneers (28-7) improved its hitting with each set, culminating in a .252 percent mark (57-18-155) by the end of the match.

Blasingame led all Golden Eagles with 13 kills and only one error, hitting .364 percent to finish her collegiate career. She also posted four blocks, one solo, on the night. Dearien and Bakke each launched 12 kills apiece as Dearien completed the double-double with 16 digs and two block-assists. Bakke added a pair of blocks and five digs in the loss.

Sophomore Alyssa Arnold completed a career season with 40 assists, ending the year with 1,305 helpers while sophomore Beth Brankle dug a team-best 17 Pioneer attempts to finish the year with a team-leading 594 digs.

The Golden Eagles rallied to an early 7-1 lead in the first set, never allowing WBU to gain the advantage. Wayland quickly narrowed the deficit to 9-7, but two Blasingame kills and terminations from Bakke and Dearien revamped a four-point cushion, 16-12. With a 20-15 lead in hand, John Brown allowed the top-seeded Pioneers to again pull within two, 22-20. Junior Molli Pugh provided two of her seven kills on the night and a Baptist setting error handed JBU a 1-0 lead.

Wayland quickly rallied, however, breaking open a 9-6 score in the second set with a 10-4 run, pushing the score to 19-10. Only a kill from junior Karis Buff and two from Blasingame could help stem the Baptist rush as the hosts went on for an easy 25-13 second-set win.

The third and fourth sets each featured tight contests down the stretch, but timely Pioneer runs translated into a pair of wins. In the third tied at 10 apiece, Wayland struck for a 7-0 run, fueled by a pair of aces and two JBU attack errors, to build a 17-10 lead en route to a 25-18 victory. In the fourth period, the Golden Eagles held a 10-6 lead, but two Hawkins kills helped quickly tie the score at 10.

Constantly trading points, Bakkes kill brought the visitors to within 16-15 and later Deariens termination kept a 17-16 score. However, an ensuing 5-0 Wayland rally manufactured a six-point cushion, 22-17. Dearien attempted to will her team back into the contest with a kill and a block-assist with Pugh, forcing a 22-18 score, but the Pioneers ended the set with three consecutive points, eliminating the Golden Eagles from the tournament and ending championship aspirations.

WBU countered the Golden Eagles seniors with a trio of double-digit kill totals from its three seniors. Hawkins blasted a match-high 21 kills and posted five blocks in the win while Chelsey Driskill added 18 kills and four block-assists. Cindy Horn notched 10 kills while Tyler Gasaloga passed out 27 of Baptists 55 assists in the match. Rossanna Ramos dug a match-best 25 JBU attack attemps.

The Golden Eagles close out the 2015 season with yet another 20-win performance and say goodbye to three seniors in Audrey Dearien, Libby Blasingame and Melissa Bakke, who helped piece together an 81-61 (.570) mark in their four-year stint.

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