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Cougars Storm To Sweep

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Photo by Holly Magnuson

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October 27, 2012
Jared Pine
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AZUSA, Calif. -- Just one week after winning its first-ever matchup against Dixie State, Azusa Pacific completed the season sweep of the Red Storm with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-18) victory in the Felix Event Center, Saturday afternoon.

"I thought we played very well," head coach Chris Keife said. "From start to finish, I thought we did a great job maintaining consistency the whole way through the match."

The win extended the Cougars' season-best winning streak to six and moved the team into a tie for fourth place in the Pacific West Conference.

Against Dixie State last week junior Jackie Landers had just one kill and five attack errors, but this week the Cougars' leading hitter finished with 15 kills and 10 digs for a double-double along with a pair of service aces and two blocks.

"Jackie has been doing well for us all year," Keife said. "I knew she would have a good game today just based off the type of player she is. She did a nice job defensively as well."

Landers came out swinging from the opening point of the match and had four kills on her first four swings, giving Azusa Pacific (17-7, 8-5) a 6-5 lead. The Red Storm had nine attack errors in the opening set, giving the Cougars a one-set lead.

The Red Storm (6-12, 4-9) used three Landers errors to take an early 6-5 lead in the second set, but Azusa Pacific's freshman outside hitter Joy Reinke responded with kills on three consecutive points. The Cougars built on the momentum and extended their lead to 16-10. However, a series of errors by the Cougars coupled with a pair of kills by Mercedes O'Neal cut the lead to one, 23-22.

On the ensuing point, Azusa Pacific's senior Sophie Burns set Lauren Edwards for a kill, and on set-point freshman Mattie Shelford found the floor, earning a two-set lead for the home team.

Landers and freshman Ashley Vander Tuig continued to play well in the third set, combining for four kills as the Cougars took a 7-4 lead. Reinke then took control of the match with five kills in six points before Vander Tuig added pair of kills.

Azusa Pacific held onto its lead, and on match-point, freshman Tristan Racich set Vander Tuig for her ninth kill of the afternoon, giving Azusa Pacific a three-set victory.

"[Vander Tuig] is athletic, quick, and smart and she has been working hard," Keife said. "She has been doing a good job for our team, helping us win in the middle, and Joy did well with 13 kills. She was very efficient just like last week against them. She did a nice job of finding the court and the opposing blockers hands for points."

Vander Tuig paced the team with five blocks and a .500 attack percentage on nine kills, while Reinke helped with 13 kills, seven digs, three blocks, and a service ace.

Freshman libero Ashley Swatek had a team-high 13 digs and six assists. Burns finished the game with 33 assists and six digs.

Azusa Pacific will travel to San Diego on Tuesday to face Point Loma, which currently sits in eighth in the conference standings.