AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 9-ranked Azusa Pacific volleyball team posted its second straight win, a 30-22, 30-23, 30-25 home sweep Tuesday night over San Diego Christian, the Cougars’ sixth straight sweep of the Hawks.
Sophomore Jill Baker posted team-highs of 16 kills and 15 digs to lead the way for Azusa Pacific, which has won each of the past 16 contests against San Diego Christian. Freshman Chelsea Daley added an efficient 11 kills with just 1 error in 25 attempts, while junior middle blocker Kelsey Knudsen tallied 7 kills to go with a match-high 5 blocks for the Cougars.
"It felt good to get back into the swing of things against some of the lower ranked teams," said Baker. "It's easy to fight hard when teams are bouncing balls right back at you. When they're not hitting it down at you, it's hard to stick with our game. We had to be disciplined to stick with our game plan."
After trading the first 6 points of the opening game, the Cougars reeled off 7 straight points behind the serve of senior Brianne Huff to take a 10-3 lead. They never looked back, leading by as many as 10 points at 20-10 on the first of Baker’s 4 aces in the match. San Diego Christian rallied to within 4 points at 21-17, but Tara Chambers sparked a 3-point run as the Cougars cruised to a 30-22 win in the first game.
The Hawks led early in game 2, as well, taking a 5-3 lead to start the frame. Four straight San Diego Christian attack errors helped spark a 7-1 Azusa Pacific run that gave the Cougars a 10-6 advantage. Baker’s back-to-back kills helped spark an 11-3 run that turned a 16-13 lead into the Cougars’ largest lead of the second game at 27-16, and Azusa Pacific took the 2-game lead in the match with a 30-23 result in the second game.
San Diego Christian took 7 of the first 9 points in game 3, but Azusa Pacific regained the lead at 10-9 on 3 straight aces from Baker and never trailed again. The Hawks tied the game at each of the next 3 points, but a Daley kill, a double block from Chambers and Baker and a Megan Burch kill gave the Cougars the lead for good at 18-15. Burch and Baker recorded a pair of kills each to lead Azusa Pacific to its final 7 points as it closed out the sweep with a 30-25 game 3 victory.
"Teams like this are sometimes difficult because they can knock us out of our rhythm with some of their unconventional parts of the game," said Cougar head coach Chris Keife. "San Diego Christian’s serving was really good tonight and that made us work a bit. We just need to stay mentally focused in games like these. This game was similar to Westmont and after having those 2 5-gamers [against Concordia and California Baptist in the past 2 weeks] go the other team's way, it's nice to have a couple of wins under your belt."
The Hawks were led by Meggan Chapin’s 15 kills, and libero Brianne Stidham recorded a match-high 20 digs.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 4-3 in GSAC play, 11-4 overall, while San Diego Christian remains winless in 7 conference contests and drops to 4-11 overall. The Cougars head to San Diego for a Saturday afternoon clash with the NAIA’s No. 7-ranked Point Loma Nazarene at 3:00 p.m.