Volleyball Rebounds with Sweep Over St. Gregory's

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SHAWNEE, Okla. -- Senior Audrey Dearien recorded a match-high 16 kills and sophomore Beth Brankle launched four aces, helping the John Brown volleyball team (18-12, 8-5 SAC) to a sweep (25-18, 25-17, 25-14) over St. Gregory's on Tuesday (Oct. 27) night at the W.P. Wood Fieldhouse.

After suffering a difficult five-frame setback at Texas Wesleyan on Saturday (Oct. 24), the Golden Eagles rallied for the season sweep of the Cavaliers (6-15, 2-11 SAC) to maintain a one-game lead over Southwestern A.G. (Texas) in the conference standings. JBU is still 1.5 games behind Texas Wesleyan, which is slated to face the top two teams in the conference this weekend, Oklahoma City and Wayland Baptist (Texas).

Dearien led all players with 16 kills and hit an impressive .556 (16-1-27) on the evening, capturing the double-double with 13 digs. Brankle came up with a match-high 15 digs and four service aces, including a trio of aces in JBU's match-closing 7-0 run in the third set.

Junior Molli Pugh handed in an eight-termination effort (8-0-15) and hit .533 percent on the night, helping John Brown close the match at a very efficient .323 percent (40-9-96). The Golden Eagle defense dug up 59 Cavalier attacks, and allowed the hosts to make 18 errors on its 104 swings, finishing the contest with a mere .087 percent (27-18-104) attacking clip.

"It was good to start our week off with a win, especially on the road in conference," head coach Ken Carver noted. "One of our goals tonight was to be efficient and we definitely accomplished that by winning in three sets. Our team did a good job with first-ball contact, which allowed Alyssa and our attackers to terminate balls early in rallies. Our back-line defense had another good night in digging up SGU's attack, limiting their offensive output and allowing us to be up-tempo in our transition offense.

"Alyssa (Arnold) did a good job of spreading the ball around. Audrey and Molli were very effective for our team offensively this evening and the team's overall output was stellar. Good win and a good start to a full week of play."

Sophomore Alyssa Arnold needed just 31 assists, a match-high, to get the job done tonight as all five other starters notched at least four kills. Senior Melissa Bakke added six on just two errors while junior Karis Buff smacked five over her own. Senior Libby Blasingame contributed four as well.

The Golden Eagles faced a five-point deficit early in the first set, but a trio of Dearien kills and two Pugh terminations jump-started a 10-3 rally in favor of John Brown, swapping the lead, and placing the visitors on top, 15-13. Errors held the Cavaliers back from returning to contention, and two more Dearien smacks paved the way for a 25-18 first-frame win.

JBU never trailed in the second, but navigated to just a small lead throughout the majority of the set. Up by just one, 14-13, Buff's kill gave way to two Bakke terminations, building the lead to four, 18-14. Three different Golden Eagles (Dearien, Pugh and Buff) contributed spikes down the stretch and Arnold threw up a solo block as the Golden Eagles rode two more SGU miscues to a 25-17 victory in the middle period.

Finally in the third, kills from Bakke and Dearien book-ended a trio of Cavalier errors, which broke open a 6-6 tie in favor of John Brown, 10-6. St. Gregory's kept within four until 18-14, where the service of Brankle took over. Brankle led JBU on a 7-0 match-clinching run, in which she served up three aces and a kill, picking apart the Cavs defense to shut the door in dramatic fashion, 25-14.

Ashlynn Broussard and Mackenzie Richardson each notched nine kills for the Cavaliers in the loss, while Maggie Lasater passed out 23 assists. Karoline Vance picked up a match-best 19 digs.

John Brown will continue on the road to Bethany, Okla., on Thursday (Oct. 19) when it face Southwestern Christian (Okla.) at 7 p.m. at the Pickens-Springer Gymnasium. From there, JBU will compete in the College of the Ozarks (Mo.) triangular, set to take place in Pt. Lookout, Mo., on Saturday (Oct. 31).

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