AZUSA, Calif. -- Allison Kincheloe doesn’t care much for the spotlight. So on a night that Azusa Pacific moved its volleyball match out of prime time and out of the center court arena, Kincheloe opted to step front and center and lead the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Cougars to a 30-28, 30-20, 30-26 nonconference victory over Bryan College, Wednesday night.
Kincheloe, a third-year starter out of Mater Dei High, tallied 43 assists in the 3-game sweep of the Lions and in the process broke the school career-record for assists. She now has 4,588 assists, besting Mahea Burgess’ former standard of 4,569 set during her 4-year Cougar career from 1999 to 2002.
“I’m not too fazed by the record,” said Kincheloe. “As a setter your mindset is to help the hitter, and they’re the ones who deserve the recognition. I’m here to help, not be the central focus.”
And indeed she was quite the helper tonight, assisting no less than 8 different Cougars who recorded at least 2 kills. All-American Jill Baker led a powerful Cougar attack with 12 kills in just 33 attacks against just 1 error. Freshman Chelsea Daley, who has struggled in recent matches, snapped out of the doldrums with 10 kills.
“We played well tonight,” said Kincheloe. “We executed and got into a better rhythm tonight than we did last night against Hope. This should give us good momentum heading into the Concordia match.”
The Cougars took their dear time finding that aforementioned rhythm, allowing Bryan to stay within striking distance throughout the first game and never leading my more than 5 points. In fact, the Lions used a 5-1 run late in the game to pull to within a point at 28-27, but a rare yet perfectly-placed kill by Kincheloe followed by a monster hit by senior Brianne Huff put the game on ice and seemingly kick-start a sluggish set of Cougars.
“I think the combination of us playing back-to-back matches, this one on our auxiliary court, on what is usually an off-night for us, and starting at 6 instead of 7 p.m. threw us out sync for a bit,” said Cougar head coach Chris Keife. “I told the girls to stay focus and execute on their side of the net.”
Azusa Pacific rolled in the second game, sprinting out to a 25-10 advantage behind Bakers’ 4 kills before settling for the 10-point victory. The surge of dominant play allowed Keife to tinker with his line-up in the third game, going deep on the bench to field his 6-player attack.
“It was good that we got to play a lot of girls tonight,” said Keife, “including some who are going to play key roles in the future.”
However, it was Kincheloe’s perfect set to Daley that the rookie put away midway through the second game that was true highlight of the night.
“I think the record is great for Allison,” said Keife, “she deserves it. She has been an integral part of our offense the past 3 years and to have her get this record as only a junior is pretty neat. And considering the setters that have gone before her, it’s a very significant accomplishment.
With the victory, Azusa Pacific improves to a 16-6 on the season while Bryan, which is making mid-fall Southern California tour, falls to 16-8.
The Cougars return to the rigors of GSAC play Saturday (Oct. 20) when they visit No. 3-ranked Concordia University in Irvine at 7 p.m.