Blocking, timely runs fuel volleyball’s rally to earn home court advantage

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SHAWNEE, Okla. -- Freshman Jessica Meyer, sophomore Kennedy Shelstead and senior Molli Pugh each posted seven block-assists, and the John Brown University volleyball team scrapped to a 3-1 (25-16, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20) win over St. Gregory's (Okla.) on Friday (Nov. 4) afternoon inside the Sumner Field House.

With the win, JBU's fourth in a row, coupled with the Cavaliers' fifth-consecutive loss, the Golden Eagles are on the precipice of clinching the fourth seed in next week's Sooner Athletic tournament, ensuring John Brown (19-11, 10-7 SAC) home-court advantage in quarterfinal action.

The Golden Eagles need to just take care of Science & Arts (Okla.) tomorrow (Nov. 5) to clinch the fourth seed.

The Cavaliers (19-15, 10-8) needed a win on homecoming, but hit just .106 percent on the match, including a -.015 in the pivotal fourth and deciding set, missing a chance to sweep the season series with the Golden Eagles.

"Tonight's match against SGU was very similar to our first outing, but this time we were able to come out on top," head coach Ken Carver noted. "Our team did a good job of executing our game plan right out of the gate and that allowed us to gain some early momentum. There were some specific things we had been practicing this week leading up to our match, so it was gratifying to see our team execute our game plan.

"We knew St. Gregory's would be a tough rematch, especially because they were playing for the right to host their first-ever tournament match."

Fueled by the blocking game, the Golden Eagles notched 28 block-assists on the afternoon, its second-highest output of the season, totaling 15.0 team rejections.

Pugh continued her complete game with a double-double, terminating a team-best 11 balls and posting 21 digs. Shelstead added nine kills while Beck, freshman Carly McKinney and junior Bailei Brown each added eight as JBU hit .176 on the match (53-19-193).

Defensively, the Golden Eagles racked up 120 digs on 208 SGU attack attempts, led by junior Beth Brankle's 30 scoops as McKinney added 25 and junior Alyssa Arnold added 17 to accompany 19 assists. Freshman Elizabeth Williams dished out a team-high 24 helpers in the win.

"I thought our defense was pretty consistent tonight both at the net and in the back row," added Carver. "It was an important victory for us tonight and it puts us in a position to host a tournament quarterfinal match should we finish off our season with a victory against USAO tomorrow."

SGU's Ashlynn Broussard terminated a match-high 21 attempts and completed the double-double with 25 digs. Cierra Mullins contributed 14 kills in the loss while Bianca Olivares and Sarah Ahrens each passed out 20 assists.

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