LAIE, Hawai‘i -- BYU-Hawaii certainly lived up to its top-10 NCAA Division II ranking Wednesday night, handing first-year Pacific West Conference member Azusa Pacific a 25-17, 25-11, 25-15 defeat to open up the Cougars’ four-match road trip to Hawai‘i.
The Seasiders, ranked 10th in this week’s Division II Coaches Poll, jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the opening set and never looked back, putting together a nearly-flawless performance from the opening serve. BYU-Hawaii held Azusa Pacific to a season-low .029 hitting percentage, registering 11 blocks against Cougar hitters.
Freshman outside hitter Joy Reinke was Azusa Pacific’s kills leader, tying for a match-high with eight kills, and she was joined by efficient performances from freshman middle blocker Ashley Vander Tuig (six kills; .333 hitting percentage) and junior right side hitter Lauren Edwards (five kills, no errors).
Despite surrendering the first eight points of the match, the Cougars fought back and pulled to within three points of the Seasiders after senior setter Sophie Burns served back-to-back aces that pulled the Cougars to within 16-13. BYU-Hawaii responded with a 7-2 run before siding out the final two points for a 25-17 first-set win.
A Vander Tuig kill opened the second set, giving Azusa Pacific its only lead of the match, but the Seasiders answered again. This time, it was a 20-4 run which included nine straight points at the end of the outburst, and BYU-Hawaii registered seven of its 11 team blocks in the convincing 25-11 second-set victory. The Seasiders registered five straight points to open up a 15-3 run that started the third set, maintaining at least a nine-point margin the rest of the way in a 25-15 set that clinched the sweep.
BYU-Hawaii featured a balanced offense which featured six hitters who collected between four and eight kills, with Lauren Hagemyer leading the way with eight. Hagemyer also registered four blocks, making her one of four Seasiders who had a hand in at least four of the team’s 11 blocks.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific falls to 11-7 overall and 3-5 in PacWest play, while BYU-Hawaii extends its winning streak to 10 matches with sweeps in eight consecutive matches to improve to 11-2 overall and 6-0 in conference play. The Cougars continue their Hawai‘i trip with matches at Hawai‘i Pacific Friday night and Chaminade Saturday night.