Golden Eagles Take Both Matches in Day One of Ozarks Tournament
POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. (August 31, 2012) - John Brown picked up two victories today, sweeping Central Methodist (Mo.) in straight sets after downing Evangel (Mo.) 3-1 in the first day of competition at the College of the Ozarks Invitational.
After losing to Wiley (Texas) in its last contest of the Texas Wesleyan tournament, the Golden Eagles have rattled off another three-game winning streak.
"I can't overstate that this has been a total team effort," noted head coach Stacie Johnson as her squad has now started the season 6-1.
By contrast, JBU kicked off the 2011 campaign with a meager 3-4 start.
"The difference of this year's record versus last year's record is the strength of the team. This team made a decision early on to choose chemistry and accountability and the fruits of that choice are clearly evident right now on the court."
Although John Brown fell in the first set of the day to Evangel (25-21) in its strangely customary style of starting slow, the ladies rebounded by rattling off three-straight set victories to take the game in four (21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18).
The tandem of Erin Didier and Audrey Dearien combined for a total of 30 kills, exactly 15 apiece. Didier also carried her impressive game on the defensive end, recording 14 digs while Becca Young chipped in with 13. Derien and Aubrey Adams each added 10.
"In order for me to continually be effective, I rely on awesome contributions from my teammates, starting with the pass," Didier said. "Our setters have done a great job not only putting the ball in a position for me to swing away, but seeing where the opponent's blockers are and giving me and our other hitters a good chance to get a kill."
Adding her presence to the front of the net was freshman Libby Blasingame. The 6-foot-1 middle blocker finished with a solo block while assisting on four others.
In the second game of the day, the Golden Eagles had no trouble in dispatching Central Methodist, 3-0 (25-14, 25-8, 25-15).
As one could assume, it was Didier leading the charge again for JBU as the senior outside hitter netted 16 kills on 25 total attacks, recording an impressive .640 hitting percentage.
Ranked No. 14 in the nation in kills per game (4.00) and posting a team-leading 107 total kills entering the tournament, Didier has a clear plan on how to continue her output.
"I just plan on continuing communication with our setters and having the mindset of bettering the ball wherever it is in addition to seeing the court and opponent's defense well."
Her success seemed to be contagious as John Brown hit an incredible .420 percent on the evening, only suffering six attack errors. Didier and Dearien again carried the squad on the defensive side of the net, each finishing with 10 kills.
"Erin and Audrey are strong hitters because they have a strong team supporting them," said Johnson of her two primary offensive weapons. "Hitters can only be as good as the support of the pass and set. It takes a team effort to get that kill.
"We have a great left back defense system that communicates open shots to them."
The Golden Eagles will look to extend its great play as of late into Saturday's contests when JBU will meet host College of the Ozarks (Mo.) in the morning before matching up with Ottawa (Kan.) University at 1:00 p.m.