IRVINE, Calif. -- Sophomore outside hitter Jill Baker needed less than half the opening game to get the 5 kills she needed to become the seventh member of Azusa Pacific’s 1,000-kill club, finishing with a match-high 24 kills for the NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Cougars in a 4-game defeat to No. 3-ranked Concordia Saturday afternoon, 30-19, 28-30, 30-24, 30-26.
Baker recorded 8 kills in the opening game alone, with her 1,000th career kill cutting Concordia’s early lead to 14-11 and sparking a 4-point run that tied the match at 14-14. After the teams traded kills to a 15-15 tie, Concordia reeled off a game-ending 15-4 run in which the Eagles held Baker to just 2 kills the rest of the way.
The Cougars never trailed by more than a point in the second game, and with a slim 18-17 lead, a Baker kill sparked a 3-point burst that gave Azusa Pacific a 21-17 advantage. The Cougars led by at least 2 points until late in the game, when Concordia cut the lead to 28-27, but kills by Baker and freshman outside hitter Leanne Stennett sealed the 30-28 win and tied the match at 1 game apiece.
Back-to-back Baker kills pulled Azusa Pacific to within 21-20 in a pivotal third game, but Concordia scored 7 of the next 8 points to take a commanding 28-21 lead before cruising to the 30-24 win.
The Cougars led by as many as 5 points, taking a 14-9 lead after 1 of junior right side hitter Megan Burch’s 10 kills, but Concordia answered with 5 straight points to tie the game at 14-14. Azusa Pacific took another 4-point lead at 21-17, only to watch Concordia again make up the difference with 4 straight points to tie the game at 21-21. After sophomore middle blocker Tara Chambers recorded a kill to give the Cougars a 22-21 lead, the Eagles took their first lead at 23-22 on a Cougar attack error. Concordia never trailed again en route to the match-clinching 30-26 fourth-game win.
Three Cougars finished in double figures in kills, led by Baker’s tenth 20-kill performance of the season. Burch added 10 kills, and Stennett finished with a season-high 13 kills to go with 9 digs and a pair of aces. Azusa Pacific surrendered 18 points on service errors, its third-highest total in a match this season, and the Cougars mustered just 4 aces. Junior setter Allison Kincheloe finished with a team-high 13 digs.
With the defeat, Azusa Pacific was unable to make up a game in the standings on fourth-place Biola, which lost in 5 games to sixth-place Point Loma Nazarene, which now sits just a half-game behind the fifth-place Cougars. Azusa Pacific is now 7-6 in GSAC play, 16-7 overall, while Concordia improves to 11-3 GSAC, 20-3 overall. The Cougars return home to host Westmont on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.