RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- California Baptist, ranked No. 2 in the NAIA, posted its 10th straight victory over GSAC rival Azusa Pacific, sweeping the No. 16-ranked Cougars, 25-21, 25-17, 26-24 Thursday evening in Riverside. The loss was Azusa Pacific’s sixth straight road defeat to the Lancers, a team the Cougars haven’t beaten since 2004.
Junior outside hitter Jill Baker was Azusa Pacific’s kill leader with 11, and she had nearly twice as many attack attempts as any other Cougar. Freshman middle blocker Amy Alkazin converted 7 kills on 7 attempts, adding team-highs of 3 blocks and 2 service aces.
Azusa Pacific registered 16 kills in the opening set, forcing 8 tie scores and staying within a point of California Baptist until the Lancers scored 5 of 7 points in a crucial stretch to turn a slim 17-16 edge into a 22-18 margin. Two quick kills from Baker and senior right side hitter Megan Burch cut the lead in half to 22-20, but California Baptist junior outside hitter Noelle Dyk notched back-to-back kills to reach set point at 24-20. Junior Fei Shi finished off the 25-21 opening-set victory with her seventh kill of the set en route to a match-high 13-kill effort for the Lancers.
The Cougars jumped out to a 7-3 lead to start the second set and led by 2 points at 12-10 after one of senior middle blocker Kelsey Knudsen’s 4 kills. California Baptist reeled off a 10-1 run from that point, thanks in part to a pair of Mical Bell’s match-high 3 aces (all in the second set), taking a 20-13 lead before cruising to the 25-17 victory.
Azusa Pacific controlled the third set from the outset, never trailing while taking an 18-15 lead on a Baker kill. The Lancers had the answer again, this time stunning the Cougars with an 8-0 run that included a Dyk ace and a trio of Shi kills. Azusa Pacific fought off 4 straight match points, starting with the last of Burch’s 4 kills in the match, to tie the set at 24-24. A service error gave California Baptist its fifth match-point opportunity, and Fei’s solo block sealed the Lancers’ sweep.
Azusa Pacific drops below.500 in Golden State Athletic Conference play at 2-3, and the Cougars are now 12-5 overall on the season. California Baptist improves to 5-1 GSAC, 16-1 overall. Azusa Pacific returns home to face Westmont (1-4 GSAC, 7-9 overall) for a 3 p.m. matchup at the Felix Event Center on Saturday, Sept. 27.