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Cougars Hit The Mark

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October 18, 2008
Oliver Kimokeo
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AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA's No.-10 ranked Azusa Pacific fired on all cylinders in Saturday night’s 25-18, 25-19, 25-9 Golden State Athletic Conference sweep over The Master's, committing a season-low 5 attack errors.

The Cougars limited the Mustangs to only 9 points in the third set, their best defensive effort for a full set in 53 matches. After the opening 2 sets with 17 ties on points, the closing game was smooth and decisive for the Cougars, who reeled off 22 of the first 27 points on a 25-9 game decision to clinch the victory.

"We controlled the ball very well," Cougar head coach Chris Keife said. "Our setters did a good job of mixing it up a little bit, so it freed up a lot of hitters to have 1-on-1 attacks on blocks. We were able to hit through a lot of split blocks too. We've been working on retooling some of our shots and the girls did a good job with that."

The Cougars finished with a .412 attacking percentage, just 1 percentage point shy of the season-high .413 clip it converted in an Aug. 30, 2008 win over St. Mary (Neb.). Azusa Pacific came up with 40 team kills, led by junior outside hitter Jill Baker’s 15 kills and sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Daley, who registered 7 kills.

"We only made 5 errors as a team," Baker said. "Playing against any team, it's really hard to give up as few as points as we did. We were firing on all angles, and our efficiency helped us get points in a variety of ways."

Azusa Pacific left no doubt in its seventh conference win, trailing just twice in the second set and never allowing The Master’s a 2-point advantage at any stage of the match.

"We got in a rhythm and our hitters were not making any errors," senior middle blocker Kelsey Knudsen said. "We were hitting the spots they could not reach."

Setters Allison Kincheloe and Raechel Jones combined for 32 of the team's 38 assists and freshman middle blocker Ariel Beetstra collected a match-high 6 blocks. Senior right side hitter Megan Burch tallied 6 kills in 10 attempts and registered 4 blocks.

"It's tough for us because (we know) those ranked teams are coming and they are going to be here soon, especially with Concordia next week,” Keife said. “We'll continue working on things next week, so that next Saturday we'll be able to have a great matchup here against Concordia."

With the sweep, Azusa Pacific improves to 17-7, 7-5 in GSAC, while The Master's drops to 7-13, 1-11 in GSAC. The Cougars will visit Hope International in Fullerton on Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.