HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Azusa Pacific snapped a season-long four-match losing streak, following junior outside hitter Jackie Landers’ career-high 24 kills to post a four-set win over Hawai‘i Pacific, 25-17, 25-16, 26-28, 25-20 in Honolulu Friday night.
After cruising through the first two sets, the Cougars hit a bump and were edged in the third set, losing to the Sea Warriors before taking the fourth by a five-point margin. Senior setter Sophie Burns led both teams in assists with a match-high 47.
In the opening set, the Cougars fought to an 18-15 lead, then proceeded to score six consecutive points which included three kills for junior outside hitter Jackie Landers, who then closed out the set with another one of her 24 kills. Junior Lauren Edwards added 12 kills with just one error for an outstanding .440 hitting percentage.
“Jackie did a really nice job for us, and she carried a lot of the load for us,” Cougar head coach Chris Keife said. “Overall we had a really nice balance, and we had a really good passing night that also helped us out.”
In the second set, Azusa Pacific jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, thanks to an Ashley Swatek ace. The freshman libero also added 28 digs on the night, a match-high. The Cougars opened the set with a kill from Landers but were ultimately edged by the Sea Warriors in the set, 28-26.
“Hawaii Pacific did well in the third set with a different lineup,” Keife said. “They made a lot of plays down the stretch, so you have to give them credit, and going into the fourth set they carried in a lot of momentum from the previous set. We held our emotions in check and continued to execute.”
Taking it to a fourth set, the Cougars went back and forth and then closed out the match with a 25-20 victory, thanks to a final kill by freshman middle blocker Ashley Vander Tuig. The Sea Warriors held their ground with a seven-point run that put Azusa Pacific into a four-point hole midway through the set before the Cougars took over. Vander Tuig led the team with four blocks, followed by Christy Cain, Lauren Edwards and Sophie Burns who contributed with one block each.
With the win, the Cougars improve to 4-5 in the PacWest and 12-7 overall, while Hawai‘i Pacific falls to 1-5 in conference play and 7-7 overall. The Cougars will continue their trip through Hawai‘i with a visit to Chaminade Saturday night at 7 pm Hawaiian time.