Golden Eagles Earn Split in LaQuinta Inn Invitational Finale

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SALINA, Kan. (September 14, 2013) -- In day two of the LaQuinta Inn Invitational, the Golden Eagles pushed host Kansas Wesleyan to the limit before grabbing a clean sweep victory over Saint Mary (Kan.) to close out the tournament with a 1-3 record.

In the five-set affair with the host Coyotes (10-7), the Golden Eagles received double-digit kills from five sources, led by senior Erin McIlroy's 13 attacks. Sophomores Audrey Dearien and Libby Blasingame each finished with 12 kills apiece while freshman Molli Pugh landed her first collegiate double-double, notching 10 kills and 10 digs in the losing effort as JBU fell, 3-2 (22-25, 17-25, 25-19, 25-20, 13-15).

Both setters ran a fluid offense as junior Kailey Bain dished out a team-high 30 assists. Freshman setter Shayna Daniels contributed 23 helpers to accompany her pair of service aces and nine digs. Each starters, save for Bain, ended the match with multiple blocks as JBU finished the contest with 16 block assists, totaling nine team blocks.

Wesleyan jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the opening set, but John Brown would get within two points at 13-11. The Coyotes countered the JBU rally by piecing together a 4-1 run to push the lead to 17-12. JBU pushed back, pulling within a point at 20-19 on a Melissa Bakke strike and would end up knotting the score at 22 after a kill from Blasingame. Sparked by a Golden Eagle hitting error, the Coyotes would take the set by scoring the last three points to win 25-22.

John Brown netted the first three points of the second set, but Wesleyan quickly turned things around, taking a 7-4 lead. The Golden Eagles scratched to within two, 11-9, but the Coyotes would pull out to a 17-11 lead that grew to as many as nine, 22-13, en route to a 25-17 win.

The third set featured a slim 11-9 JBU advantage. With Daniels serving, the Golden Eagles padded its lead after an ace, a kill from Courtney Marshall and a KWU error, pushing the lead to 15-11. As the set progressed and John Brown protected its narrow advantage, timely errors by the opposition netted JBU three-consecutive points to close out a game three victory, 25-19.

Charged by a pair of Pugh kills, the Golden Eagles constructed a 9-5 lead in game four before a pair of Dearien attacks pushed the JBU lead even further to 12-6. Two Coyote errors, coupled with kills from McIlroy and Marshall, handed the Golden Eagles a 16-10 advantage it wouldn't relinquish. Pugh's exclamation point to finish the set was assisted by Bain, setting up a fifth and deciding set.

The set opened up 1-1, but then John Brown was awarded a point when KWU was discovered to have made an illegal substitution. JBU would build a 10-8 lead on back-to-back put downs by McIlroy and Blasingame. However, Wesleyan would begin to make its charge as three Golden Eagle errors handed over the lead back to the hosts, 12-11. Another Blasingame kill knotted the score at 12, but consecutive KWU kills was too much as a late Bakke kill couldn't stop the bleeding. The Golden Eagles would fall 15-13 and suffer the 3-2 defeat.

In the second match of the day, John Brown earned an easy 3-0 (25-9, 25-22, 25-19) victory over Saint Mary (5-9). The Golden Eagles received another big match from McIlroy, who notched a match-high 12 kills. Daniels saw the majority of the time in the offense, landing 22 assists while her counterpart, Bain, finished the afternoon with 15 helpers.

Senior Staci Williamson dove out to a team-high 13 digs in the winning effort and Bakke chipped in with 11 kills, the only other Golden Eagle to finish in double-digits.

With the first set tied a four early, the game became the Pugh and Bakke show as the tandem totaled five kills, keying a 12-2 run, handing JBU a 16-6 lead. Two more kills from Bakke, coupled with a pair of put downs from Dearien, landed the Golden Eagles an easy 25-9 victory on game one.

An early tie in the second set evaporated quickly as kills from Pugh and Vanessa Uhrhahn, in addition to a pair of Spire errors, jetted John Brown to a five-point advantage, 6-1. Saint Mary finally pushed back, starting a run of its own, this time of the 8-4 variety, to pull within 10-9. More Spire errors backed the Golden Eagle effort late into the game. Sporting a 21-17 lead, a service ace from Kendra Ammons pushed the lead to five before a trio of McIlroy kills put away the set in favor of JBU, 25-22.

The Spires, sensing a quick defeat, jumped all over JBU in the third set, dashing out to a 7-3 lead, the first time in the match USM carried the advantage. However, a timely pair of aces from Daniels sparked a pair of kills from Bakke as John Brown overcame the early deficit to take a 9-7 lead, one it wouldn't relinquish. Two more Bakke kills kick-started an 8-1 Blue and Gold rally that was capped off by four Dearien attacks. Up 18-10, the Spires slowly crawled back into the set, but its efforts proved futile as Bain's kill ended a run that was finished by kills from Pugh and Marshall, delivering a 25-19 win and an end to the Golden Eagles' seven-match losing streak.

With the victory, John Brown closes the non-conference tournament portion of its 2013 slate as it moves into Sooner Athletic Conference action. The Golden Eagles will be tested quickly, as JBU faces No. 10 Oklahoma Baptist on Thursday (Sept. 19) in Shawnee, Okla. First serve is slated for 5:30 p.m.

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