Arnold Sets Career High, JBU Splits Day One at the Clash

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FT. WORTH, Texas (August 21, 2015) -- In its first action of 2015, the Golden Eagles (1-1) suffered and inflicted a sweep as Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) won a close3-0 matchup in the first match before John Brown easily took care of Jarvis Christian (Texas) in the afternoon of the doubleheader.

At noon, JBU battled with the Saints to a hard-fought three-match tilt that saw OLLU grab a pair of wins by two points apiece. Senior Audrey Dearien easily posted a match-high 17 kills and completed the double-double with 14 digs. Sophomore Alyssa Arnold chipped in with a team-high 15 digs and threw around a match-best 25 helpers in the loss. Senior Melissa Bakke contributed six kills and 13 digs, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t overcome an anemic .084 hitting percentage, as the squad was plagued by 22 attack errors.

Down 22-19 in the first set, a pair of Saints errors and a tandem of Dearien terminations sent JBU on a 6-1 rally and a 24-23 lead. With the set deadlocked at 24 apiece, a Golden Eagle attack error coupled with a set-winning ace handed the win to OLLU.

The second featured eight ties as the squads battled for control. A Saints attack error handed JBU a quick 25-24 lead, but a kill from the Saints and a setting error swung control back to Our Lady of the Lake. The Golden Eagles responded with back-to-back terminations from Dearien and junior Karis Buff, but OLLU’s Gloriana Villarreal, who finished with only four kills, spiked consecutive kills swinging the lead back to the Saints. Similar to the first set, an error put the Golden Eagles in a 0-2 hole.

The third set was close at first, but with a three-point advantage (13-10), OLLU finished the match off on a 12-4 run, fueled by six JBU errors. John Brown struggled in the final set to find an offensive groove, hitting a -.043 percent in the final frame, falling 25-14.

Leilani Smith paced the Saints with nine kills and five block assists. Alysha Blanco contributed eight terminations while Kendall Goff added six kills in the win. Brittany Martinez and Stephanie Rubio led the defensive effort, digging up 21 and 17 JBU attacks, respectively.

The Golden Eagles responded, however, by attacking at a .412 percent against Jarvis Christian in a 25-11, 25-12, 25-12, clean-sheet win in the second match. Dearien again led the match with 10 kills but freshman Kennedy Shelstead added nine terminations in the victory to accompany three blocks. Seniors Melissa Bakke and Libby Blasingame each threw down five kills apiece while Arnold assisted on a career-high 31 kills.

“I felt like, all in all, our first matches of the new season went fairly well,” said head coach Ken Carver. Of the six sets we played today, there was really only one set that was a ‘throw away’ one and that was the final one against OLLU. We made far too many unforced errors against a team which we were evenly matched against. I have coached against their new head coach while at my last school, and knew that from a coaching standpoint he emphasizes a lot of similar things that I do. To his team's credit, they did a better job of executing in the serving and serve-receive game than we did. In spite of that, however, our team showed some very good resiliency and mental toughness.

The Golden Eagles raced out to an 11-5 lead over the Bulldogs in the first set and closed out the set on another 14-6 rally. The second set was all John Brown with a 20-9 lead, powered by a trio of kills from Blasingame and Shelstead. It was 6-0 in the final set before JCC could find the board, and a 9-4 rally placed the set out of reach as attack errors piled up for the Bulldogs. Up 23-10, the Golden Eagles used a Bailei Brown kill from Arnold to seal the match.

“I was really proud of how the team was able to use the time off between matches to mentally regroup and come out and play a lot more consistently on the court,” Carver added. Our first ball contact was more what we wanted it to be and, as a result, Alyssa was able to spread the ball around to all of our hitters and have a more balanced attack. Our hitters did a good job of terminating balls and ending rallies early too.

We'll look to take what we learned today and the momentum we gained from the second match into tomorrow and continue to focus on our consistency of play and level of execution. If we are able to do that I like our chances against the opponents we'll face tomorrow.”

The Golden Eagles will finish the SAC/RRAC Clash with a pair of matches against Langston (Okla.) and St. Thomas (Texas). JBU will face the Lions at 10 a.m. before bouting with the Celts at 2 p.m.

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