Golden Eagles Break Five-Game Skid, Reject SAGU in Four

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WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Three players landed in double-digit kills and sophomore Alyssa Arnold passed around 46 assists, allowing the John Brown volleyball team (17-11, 7-4 SAC) to run away with a narrow 3-1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 25-1) win over Southwestern A.G. (Texas) on Thursday (Oct. 23) night at the Shaffer Center.

With the victory, John Brown keeps the Lions at bay in fifth place and keeps its hopes alive to host a Sooner Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal match at the Bill George Arena on Nov. 7. Texas Wesleyan, one game ahead of the Golden Eagles, won tonight, setting up a showdown tomorrow afternoon in Ft. Worth for possession of third place in the conference standings.

Senior Audrey Dearien and junior Molli Pugh led all players with 14 kills apiece. Dearien finished off the double-double with 18 digs while Pugh assisted on eight blocks, a career-high. Senior Melissa Bakke also compiled a double-double, smacking 13 terminations and recording 18 digs in the victory.

Junior Karis Buff helped the JBU blocking effort, posting one solo block and seven assists and, coupled with Pugh, led John Brown to a 14-6 blocking advantage in the match. Sophomore Beth Brankle was one dig short of a match-high (25).

Both teams racked up nearly 100 digs each as John Brown hit .150 percent on the match (51-23-187), but kept the Lions to a .130 percent clip (56-31-192). Both teams hit its best on the night in the second set, a 25-20 SAGU win, but other than that, the Golden Eagle defense limited the Lions to a .066 percent effort on the night.

The Golden Eagles trailed at only two points in the first set, but managed to pull away when senior Libby Blasingame and Dearien added kills that bookended a pair of SAGU errors, taking JBU from an 18-17 deficit to a 20-18 lead.

The Lions led the entire way in the second set, and even enjoyed a 14-11 lead in the third. However, a timely 9-1 rally, fueled by two kills from Pugh and Dearien each and a Pugh-Buff block was capped with a Dearien ace to change the momentum in the match. Up 20-15, John Brown didnt let up, keeping at least a three-point lead for the remainder of the set.

Three ties littered the third set, the latest at 16-16, until a timely Dearien kill preceded a SAGU error and another Pugh-Buff block that was finished by a Bakke termination. With a 22-20 lead in hand, one more rejection was needed, this time by Blasingame, to keep John Brown up by three, 23-20. One last Dearien smack and a SAGU (15-9, 6-6 SAC) misue ended the match in favor of the visitors.

Kali Shaw led all Lions with 13 kills while Mollie McBride and Summer Skillern added 12 apiece in the loss. Shaw completed her double-double with 19 digs and Emmalee Smith added another 26 digs, a match-best. Caitlin Paschall dished out 42 helpers.

Now the table is set for JBUs showdown with Texas Wesleyan tomorrow afternoon at the Sid Richardson Center. First serve is slated for 1 p.m.

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