RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Azusa Pacific remained winless against the NAIA’s top 4 teams, dropping a 30-19, 30-26, 30-26 sweep to No. 2-ranked California Baptist Thursday night. The Cougars have now played each of the NAIA’s top 3 teams twice in Golden State Athletic Conference play, although Thursday’s sweep was just the second of the season suffered by Azusa Pacific.
The Cougars had no answer for Shi Fei’s 20-kill, 9-dig performance, although sophomore outside hitter Jill Baker and senior outside hitter Brianne Huff each registered double-figure kill totals. Baker finished with a team-high 12 kills to go with 10 digs and a pair of aces, and Huff added 10 kills and 6 digs for the Cougars.
Junior setter Allison Kincheloe finished with a team-high 11 digs, and she served the other 2 aces for an Azusa Pacific squad that committed 11 service errors.
A California Baptist attack error gave the first point of the match to the Cougars, but back-to-back kills from Verania Willis and Fei gave the host Lancers a lead it would not relinquish. Junior right side hitter Megan Burch recorded the first of her 5 kills in the match to cut the Cougars’ deficit to just 3 points at 19-16, but Fei recorded a kill and then served the next 4 points in an 11-3 run to close out the opening game with a 30-19 win for the Lancers.
Another Burch kill early in Game 2 gave Azusa Pacific a 3-point advantage at 8-5, but California Baptist scored 8 of the next 9 points for a 7-point swing, taking the lead for good again at 13-9. The Cougars twice cut the margin to a single point midway through the game and trailed by just 2 points as late as 26-24 before the Lancers took a 2-game lead with a 30-26 win.
After the Cougars again got the opening point on a California Baptist miscue, Fei’s back-to-back kills again gave the Lancers the lead for good, and California Baptist built its biggest lead of the final game when it posted an 8-point lead for match point at 29-21. A Huff kill extended the game another point, the first of 5 straight match points fended off by the Cougars to cut the lead to 29-26. However, Fei recorded her 20th kill of the match to finish off the sweep with a 30-26 win.
With the defeat, Azusa Pacific drops to 8-7 in GSAC play, 17-8 overall, while California Baptist improves to 13-2 in GSAC, 20-3 overall. The Cougars are off for the weekend, returning to action with a scheduled visit to San Diego Christian next Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.