Dearien’s 28 Kills, Daniels’ 35 Assists Help Golden Eagles Outlast Texas Wesleyan

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FT. WORTH, Texas (October 11, 2014) -- Coming off a difficult 3-0 loss last night at Southwestern A.G. (Texas), the Golden Eagles (14-7, 5-3 SAC) rebounded behind a career night from junior outside hitter Audrey Dearien to outlast Texas Wesleyan (9-14, 5-3 SAC), 3-2 (25-15, 20-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-9) this afternoon at the Sid Richardson Center.

Dearien’s 28 kills not only finished as a match high, but also marked a career-best. She finished off the double-double with 21 digs, her second-highest count this season. Sophomore middle hitter Molli Pugh contributed a season-high 14 terminations a seven block assists while junior outside hitter Tiffany Hunnicutt landed seven kills and six block assists in the win.

The Golden Eagle passing game was sharp, witnessed by 59 assists on 65 kills. Sophomore setter Shayna Daniels threw around a career-high 35 assists while her counterpart, freshman setter Alyssa Arnold, also set a career-high, this time with 24 more helpers.

In the first set the two teams took turns sharing the lead, but a 5-0 JBU run, courtesy of a Becca Young ace and four Ram errors, handed John Brown an 11-7 lead. Consecutive Pugh kills and a Melissa Bakke ace continued the margin to 15-9 until six different Golden Eagles recorded terminations. The offensive rally earned a 25-15 first-set victory.

Texas Wesleyan rebounded by grabbing an early 14-9 advantage on a Shaughnessy Hearn ace. With the hosts holding onto a 22-15 lead, a pair of kills from Hunnicutt and Dearien pulled JBU to within three, 23-20. Wesleyan managed to hang on by netting the final two points and knotting the score at one apiece.

Neither team had complete control over the third set, as the squads battled to 10 ties in the stanza. Daniels’ service ace helped the Golden Eagles to a slim 3-0 lead, but the Rams responded with a three-point lead of its own, 10-7. Bakke found the floor on a kill to take a 13-12 lead for John Brown, but Lynsay Buell answered with a smash to knot the tally again. Facing a 21-20 deficit, Libby Blasingame and Bailei Brown teamed up for a timely block of Shelby Stinnett. After a Brown attack error, Blasingame returned the score to an even mark with a termination from Arnold. Bakke took over from there, throwing down back-to-back kills, setting up Dearien’s termination that ended the set 25-23 in favor of the visitors.

Similar to the second set, Texas Wesleyan responded in the fourth, jumping to an 8-3 lead on the heels of Shaughnessy Hearn’s serving, which included two aces in the rally. Dearien then went off again with back-to-back kills before three consecutive Ram errors brought JBU all the way back to within an 11-10 score. John Brown managed to knot the score at 12-12, but TWU rallied on an 8-3 run to pull ahead, 20-15. The teams split the next 10 points as Wesleyan grabbed its second 25-20 set win of the evening, forcing a fifth and deciding set.

Dearien took over in the final stanza with seven more terminations. The Golden Eagles took a 4-1 lead when Dearien, Bakke and Hunnicutt combined for a trio of kills. JBU would never relinquish the lead as the margin grew to 8-3 after a Blasingame kill. After trading six points, Wesleyan came within three, 11-8, due to a pair of John Brown miscues. Timely as ever, Dearien seized control of the match and recorded three of JBU’s final four points, allowing the visitors to grab a well-earned 3-2 victory.

“After last night's sub-par performance, by our own standards, it was good to come right back and get a good win against a very scrappy TWU team,” head coach Ken Carver said after the victory. “Our focus was much better today and we played with much more determination, resiliency and confidence. It was good for us to be challenged today to reaffirm to ourselves what we're capable of doing if our minds are in the right place. Our serve receive was much better than last night, which allowed Shayna and Alyssa much more freedom to run more of our playbook.

“Audrey had a monster game offensively as did Molli in the middle. I was really pleased with our block today, especially for Bailei Brown who came in off the bench and helped to get some really big blocks against TWU's outside hitters. It was a real evenly played match and I'm proud of the way the team held its composure and then totally took control of the 5th set from the start and closed out the match on a strong note.

The victory keeps the Golden Eagles in contention for a top-round seeding in the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament. Currently, John Brown’s 5-3 league record is in the middle of a four-way tie for third place in the conference.

“Beyond our match, this weekend's results continues to show the parity amongst all of the programs,” admitted Carver. “We need to continue to improve our consistency on the court no matter who we may be playing. Should we be successful in that we'll have the finish we are aiming for at the conclusion of the conference season.”

Alex Hendee recorded a double-double behind 15 kills and 15 digs for Wesleyan. Abigail Zipoy had another double-double performance, notching 14 kills and 15 digs. Shelby Stinnett also notched a double-double with 14 kills and 12 digs. Hearn led all players with 40 digs while Lauren Hamaker tallied 32 assists.

The Golden Eagles will now wait until Wednesday (Oct. 15) to return to the court against Oklahoma City at Bill George Arena. The Stars handed John Brown a 3-1 loss back on Sept. 20 in Oklahoma City. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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