Dearien's 20 Kills Power JBU to Day One Split at Baker

BALDWIN CITY, Kan. (September 7, 2012) — John Brown, boasting an impressive 8-1 record entering the Baker (Kan.) Invitational, split a pair of games against Heart of America Athletic Conference teams today, first falling to Graceland (Iowa), 3-1 (25-27, 25-18, 21-25, 18-25), before defeating Benedictine (Kan.), 3-1 (25-17, 18-25, 25-22, 25-22).

Graceland kicked off the match with a 27-25 nail-biting finish to game one before handling JBU in the second, 25-18.

John Brown made it a match in the third set, rallying to a 25-22 victory before ultimately falling by the same score in the fourth, 25-22.

Erin Didier posted a game-high 15 kills to accompany her game-high 11 digs. Audrey Dearien chipped in with 11 kills.

Defensively, Becca Young finished the game with nine digs while Libby Blasingame and Melissa Bakke each recorded solo blocks.

The Golden Eagles hit an anemic .215 percent on the match as the Yellowjacket defense thwarted JBU's attack with 11.5 total blocks. In the fourth and deciding game, GU held John Brown's offense to .069 hitting percentage.

"Graceland was a great learning experience for our team," admitted head coach Stacie Johnson. "Our team really never showed up. The Jackets were a good team that featured an offense we had not yet seen this season.

"They served strong and, in addition to its offense, threw off our normal ball control and tempo. Our serve receive was poor and our defense was even worse. When you don't have the passing working, you don't have an offense. We just never pulled it together."

Determined to finish the day strong, the Blue and Gold took its frustrations out on Benedictine (Kan.) to the tune of a 3-1 victory.

Despite the win, JBU's offensive woes continued as the Golden Eagles hit .175 percent on the game. However, Dearien turned in an outstanding performance, netting a game-high 20 kills in the victory.

"We won this match because we played better defense and our passing improved," noted Johnson, "even though key players in our offense were not able to put the ball down. Benedictine threw up a solid block which, again, was good for our team to improve from.

"Honestly, we pulled out a win from shear will power and determination. As a team, we want this strong competition to prepare us for conference play. The teams we are seeing this weekend are stronger than the previous tournaments.

"These teams will make us better and our team needs this challenge."

This marks the second time Dearien has eclipsed the 20-kill mark. Her career-high came against a 3-1 loss to Wiley on Aug. 25.

"It really comes from the support from the entire team," said Dearien of her performance. "We (hitters) get great passes and sets, so the kills come naturally. It really helps when my team lets me know where the open spaces are. Our middles also really help by drawing the other team's block from the outside.

"The competition we played today was a lot more difficult than our previous matches. They put up big blocks and their defensive players didn't let the ball hit the floor without a fight. There were also some long rallies, so we took a lot of swings today."

"Audrey had a killer game that was much needed," Johnson added. "They had a hard time returning her powerful attack. We fed her the ball because it worked so well for us."

Becca Young paced JBU on defense, earning 22 digs while Erin McIlroy's presence at the net was too much for the Ravens as she threw up three solo blocks.

John Brown (9-2) will now look to finish the tournament strong against host Baker and Friends (Kan.) tomorrow. The Baker game is slated for a 11:00 a.m. start while the Friends game is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.