FRESNO, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific women’s volleyball team made history earlier this season with its first sweep of Fresno Pacific since 1991. On Friday night the Cougars added another note to the books, completing the program’s first season sweep of the Sunbirds since 1983 with a 3-0 (28-26, 25-22, 25-14 ) road victory over Fresno Pacific.
It was the team’s first road win against FPU since 1994, snapping a streak of 24 consecutive losses in Fresno, which included 13 3-0 losses.
“I feel good. It’s a testament to our girls and the amount of hard work we’ve put in over the years. Records are meant to be broken, and it feels great to finally get a win up here,” said head coach Chris Keife, who now owns all three of Azusa Pacific’s wins over Fresno Pacific since 1991.
“Different girls stepped up at different times. I thought we received the ball really well tonight. Alicia Utke, Ashley Swatek, and Joy Reinke did a great job receiving, and that helped us hit at a high percentage.”
Azusa Pacific held off a late first set rally after watching its 21-14 lead dissipate into a 24-24 tie. The Sunbirds fought off three set points, and pushed the game to 26-all before the Cougars closed with a Christy Cain kill and an FPU error for a 28-26 win. Azusa Pacific then took advantage, going on a 9-4 spree to take the second set 25-22, and leading from start to finish to seal back-to-back sweeps of Fresno Pacific for the first time since beating the Sunbirds in straight sets three times in 1983.
The Cougars held Fresno Pacific to a .151 attack percentage, allowing only Rupia Inck to register double figure kills with a match-high 16.
Azusa Pacific had two players with double-digit kills, and had five players record six or more on the night. Jaden Louie and Tristan Racich combined for 44 assists, feeding Cain for a team-high 13 kills on 22 swings. Mattie Shelford tabbed 12 kills on 23 attempts, and Utke added nine kills and nine digs.
Azusa Pacific outhit the Sunbirds in every set, culminating with a blistering .500 clip for the Cougars in the sweep-clinching game. The Cougars sided out FPU at a 68 percent rate, and generated 14 more attacks, resulting in a 50-36 kill differential.
Swatek tied for a match-high 16 digs, while Reinke registered six kills, and seven digs. Hayley Beetstra finished with four kills and one dig.
The 3-0 win was the team’s 11th sweep of the season as the Cougars improved to 9-5 in Pacific West Conference play with six PacWest contests remaining on the schedule.
Azusa Pacific will welcome a top-5 team in BYU-Hawaii on Thursday night before a pair of weekend tilts against Hawai‘i Hilo and Chaminade on Friday and Saturday respectively. The Cougars fell to the Vulcans in Hawai‘i earlier this year, and defeated Chaminade 3-1 on Oct. 19.