SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Jill Baker came within 3 kills of tying the single-match record she set just over 3 weeks ago, finishing with 31 kills to lead the NAIA’s No. 10-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 30-17, 28-30, 30-25, 30-27 victory over The Master’s Saturday afternoon.
It was the first GSAC victory for the Cougars, who took the NAIA’s top-ranked Fresno Pacific to 5 games after falling behind 2-0, becoming the first team in 6 years to force a fifth game against the Sunbirds after dropping the first 2 games.
The Cougars jumped out to a 15-5 lead in the opening game, and with a 24-17 lead, reeled off 6 straight points to close out the game with a 30-17 win. In the second game, Azusa Pacific led by as many as 5 points and held a 26-23 advantage late in the game, but The Master’s went on a 7-2 run to finish the game with a winning 30-28 margin.
In the third game, the Cougars took an early 10-7 lead, only to watch the Mustangs take advantage of 4 straight Azusa Pacific attack errors in a 5-point run that swung the lead back to The Master’s at 12-10. The Cougars scored 3 straight points to regain the lead, the last on a Baker kill, before cruising in for the 30-25 third-game victory.
After the first 20 points of Game 4 were evenly contested for a 10-10 tie, Baker recorded 3 straight kills to give Azusa Pacific a 13-10 lead, and the Cougars led the rest of the way, sealing the match with a 30-27 win.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 8-2 overall, 1-1 in GSAC play, while The Master’s drops to 4-3 overall, 0-2 in GSAC play. The Cougars have now won 6 straight against the Mustangs, with the last 3 all taking 4 games to finish. Azusa Pacific returns to action Tuesday, Sept. 11, when they visit Hope International at 7 p.m. in another GSAC contest.