Senior Effort Leads Volleyball to Sweep of SAGU in Quarterfinals

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- Seniors Audrey Dearien, Libby Blasingame and Melissa Bakke each pounded double-digit kills and the fourth-seeded John Brown volleyball team (22-14), for the second time this season, posted a clean sweep (25-11, 25-17, 28-26) over fifth-seeded Southwestern A.G. (Texas) on Saturday (Nov. 7) afternoon inside Bill George Arena, advancing the team to the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament semifinals.

While the first two sets were won in run-away fashion, the third set came down to the wire with the Golden Eagles holding a 22-19 lead. SAGU (17-14) rallied to tie the score at 22, prompting four ties down the stretch as the teams battled. Deariens kill gave JBU a 25-24 lead and an Lion attack error maintained John Browns 26-25 lead. After a 26-all tie, junior Molli Pugh smacked her eighth kill of the contest, setting up the final serve. In typical fashion, Dearien launched her second ace of the contest, finally closing out SAGU in three, 28-26.

“I was really pleased with our teams focus, execution and poise throughout the match,” said head coach Ken Carver. “The team came out for this match with laser-like focus. Everything we had practiced for the day before and talked about in our pre-match scouting report they executed. We talked about attacking at a specific tempo with our offense and focusing on hitting specific zones and between Alyssa [Arnold] and our front row attackers, they did a great job of executing that part of our game plan.

“Our offensive efficiency, however, wouldnt have happened without consistent first-ball contact in serve-receive and our team did a very good job in that facet of the game. We didnt give up an ace all match. SAGU is definitely known as one of the scrappiest teams on defense in our conference so we were attempting to be very specific with our shots and looking to terminate rallies early and not allow their defense to stay rallies.”

The offensive efficiency came to the tune of a .277 percent attack clip for John Brown as the hosts posted as high as a .390 percent mark in the second set. Dearien led all JBU attackers with 14 kills and notched the double-double with 13 digs and hit .382 percent on the afternoon. Bakke threw down 11 terminations and posted a solo block while Blasingame added 10 kills, one solo block and a pair of block-assists. Junior Karis Buff was also efficient, adding four kills and hit at a .364 percent clip, while Pugh added eight and hit .421 percent.

“There was some good defense on display by both teams through the course of the third set. I was pleased to see our team maintain good poise as SAGU made their push to win the set and force extra volleyball. Really happy for Audrey that the last point of the match was a service ace, already adding to her nation-leading total.

“In addition to Audrey, I was happy for Melissa and Libby as well that our team was able to win our quarterfinal round match against a good SAGU team and extend their senior season a little longer. We will enjoy this win, but get back into the gym and to work in preparing for our semifinal match against Wayland Baptist next Wednesday.”

The Golden Eagles posted two blocks and six block-assists on the afternoon and was led on the back-line defense by sophomore Alyssa Arnolds 16 digs, followed by sophomore Beth Brankles 13. Arnold completed the double-double with a game-high 39 assists.

The Lions were limited to just a .112 percent attacking mark in the contest (33-19-125) and hit -.050 percent in the first frame. Kali Shaw posted a team-best 12 kills while Mollie McBride and Summer Skillern added seven apiece.

With the victory, the Golden Eagles will march on to the semifinals, and will have to travel to Plainview, Texas, to take on top-seeded Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Wednesday (Nov. 11). First serve time is still to be determined.

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