Golden Eagles Take Wayland Baptist to Five Sets

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PLAINVIEW, Texas (September 19, 2015) -- Senior Libby Blasingame produced a season-high 14 kills and six blocks while sophomore Alyssa Arnold added a career-high 58 assists as the John Brown volleyball team (10-5, 0-2 SAC) earned a 2-1 lead at No. 21 Wayland Baptist (Texas), but was not able to hold on, dropping a 3-2 decision (25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 23-25, 10-15) inside the Hutcherson Center on Saturday (Sept. 19) afternoon.

Senior Audrey Dearien led all JBU players with 17 terminations and 18 digs to complete the double-double. JBU also received a second double-double from Arnold, who also added 20 digs to her career passing afternoon. Sophomore Beth Brankle notched a team-leading 23 digs in the loss.

With a 2-1 lead and a 23-22 advantage in the fourth set, the Golden Eagles were poised to upset the Pioneers (13-3, 2-0 SAC) after a Blasingame kill and an ace from Brankle brought JBU within two points of the victory. WBU responded with a kill from Shahala Hawkins, the defending Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year, and a second termination from Mallorie Ellis. A Golden Eagle attacking error allowed the Pioneers to roar back for the set win and a fifth-set showdown.

Baptist scored the first five points of the deciding frame, but kills from Blasingame and junior Karis Buff, alongside a timely rejection Blasingame and Arnold, helped the Golden Eagles pull within one, 7-6. Dearien’s first kill of the fifth set forced a 9-8 score but Hawkins broke JBU’s momentum and the Pioneers’ Chelsey Driskill finished back-to-back kills, pushing the hosts lead back to four, 12-8. Dearien would add a final kill, but Wayland would finally escape the final set, 15-10.

Neither team hit at its average pace. John Brown managed a .152 percent hitting clip (62-31-204) but still managed to hold WBU to a .156 percent mark (65-33-205), well below its usual .223 percent average. The Golden Eagles’ best set came in the third, a 25-17 win, where Blasingame pounded six of her 14 terminations, helping JBU to a .433 percent attack. Wayland saved its best for last, the fifth set, where the hosts completed the comeback with a .385 percent mark.

After a kill from senior Melissa Bakke, the Golden Eagles enjoyed an early 9-4 lead in the first set. A pair of ties ensued only to have Wayland jump on top by four, 20-16. Four Baptist attack errors and a Dearien smash returned the lead to John Brown, 23-21, before Dearien and junior Molli Pugh teamed up for a stuff, helping close out the first set in favor of JBU.

Similar to the first, the Golden Eagles held 6-3 and 9-7 leads early until WBU forced three deadlocks midway through the second set. A 7-3 rally by the hosts produced a 20-16 lead until Bakke unleashed three kills, vaulting JBU within one, 23-22. A pair of kills from WBU’s Cindy Horn finally ended the close second stanza.

A pair of kills from Bakke and Pugh launched JBU out in front in the third, and four terminations from Blasingame down the stretch helped JBU take an 11-8 lead. Dearien’s ace placed JBU in a 16-10 lead and four Wayland attacking errors allowed the visitors to run away with the third set, 25-17, the largest margin of victory for either team on the afternoon.

Hawkins ended with 23 kills while Driskill added 15 and Horn a dozen. Wayland finished the match with 99 digs paced Rossanna Ramos (27) and Cat Wiechmann (19). The hosts put up 11 blocks led by three solo from Hawkins.

The Golden Eagles will return to the court on Friday (Sept. 25) when it welcomes Texas Wesleyan to Bill George Arena in an attempt to break its current three-match skid. First serve is slated for 7 p.m.

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