AZUSA, Calif. -- Junior outside hitter Jill Baker collected 14 of her match-high 25 kills in the final 2 sets to lead the NAIA’s No. 9-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 25-17, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21 win over Hope International.
Baker’s 25-kill total was her second-highest of the season, and was her best mark in a match lasting less than 5 sets. She committed just 4 errors, converting 51 attacks at a .412 clip, the fifth time this season she has posted a single-match attack percentage of .400 or higher.
The Cougars, who posted a .412 attack percentage in Saturday’s win over The Master’s, finished with a .325 attack percentage in Tuesday’s 4-set victory, posting a .300 or better attack percentage in back-to-back GSAC matches for the first time since 2004. Azusa Pacific’s 65 kills were the most in a match lasting less than 5 sets this season.
Baker’s back-to-back kills sparked a 9-3 run in the opening set that turned a 16-14 lead into a 25-17 victory, and the Cougars held off a Hope International rally in the second set to claim a 25-22 win and a 2-set lead in the match.
The Royals scored 6 straight points to take the lead for good in the third set at 10-6, leading by at least 3 points the rest of the way in a 25-22 win that forced a fourth set. After another Baker kill sparked a 4-point run that snapped a 4-4 tie, the Cougars led by at least 3 points the rest of the way in a 25-21 win that sealed the match.
Baker also finished with 14 digs, and she was joined in double-digit kills by sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Daley and freshman outside hitter Marguerite Hanna, who each finished with 12 kills. The performance was Daley’s fifth time in double figures in kills in GSAC play, and Hanna shattered her previous season-high in kills. Freshman libero Robin Portela notched a match-high 20 digs, her third time over 20 digs in a match this season, and senior middle blocker Kelsey Knudsen tallied a team-high 5 blocks.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 18-7 overall, 8-5 GSAC, and the Cougars move into a tie for fourth place in the GSAC standings with No. 4-ranked California Baptist. Hope International drops to 5-14 overall, 2-11 GSAC. The Cougars host No. 2-ranked Concordia Saturday at 1 p.m.