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Senior Sweep

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Photo by Holly Magnuson
Azusa Pacific had no trouble posting a sweep on senior night thanks in large part to 13 kills from Mattie Shelford (right) and 33 assists from Sophie Burns (left).

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November 9, 2012
Chris Baker
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AZUSA, Calif.-- On senior night the Azusa Pacific women’s volleyball team had little trouble closing out the Pacific West Conference season, sweeping (25-18, 25-17, 25-14) Holy Names for its 10th PacWest win, and 10th victory in the last 11 matches in front of 350 fans at the Felix Event Center. And while the night belonged to the seniors, it was a freshman and junior that led the attack.

Rookie hitter Mattie Shelford flirted with an Azusa Pacific attack-percentage record before closing the match with 13 kills on 20 attempts (.600), while junior hitter Jackie Landers continued to make a case for all-conference honors with 17 kills.

The duo combined for 30 of the Cougars’ 47 kills, and had only six attack errors on 54 swings, helping senior setter Sophie Burns rack up 33 assists just two nights after tallying a career-high 55 on Wednesday. Seniors Nicole Sepulveda and Breezy Funk made their marks in their last home match, with Sepulveda posting three digs and an assist, while Funk made the play of the night and finished with seven digs and an assist.

“I thought it was a fun, energetic, and the girls played with passion. I thought we did well. It was a fun game to watch and the crowd brought a lot of energy. Mattie and Jackie both did very well for us. Mattie gave us a certain presence out there and it was good to see,” said head coach Chris Keife.

“It was nice to see the seniors get out there. Breezy made an exceptional play, and Nicole was really strong defensively.”

Funk, who was honored before the match as one of three seniors, made the night’s most memorable play in the third set with Azusa Pacific (21-7; 10-6 PWC) leading 11-6. The Tempe, Ariz. native chased down an errant pass all the way to the back bleachers, running 25 feet and saving the ball just before slamming into the seats to ignite an already energized crowd. The Cougars eventually scored on the backend of the play when Hayley Beetstra recorded one of her two kills on the night.

Azusa Pacific trailed by as many as three in the opening set, but came back strong to take a 12-11 advantage, and led for all but one point for the remainder of the match. The Cougars posted a .324 attack percentage, while holding the Hawks (11-15; 8-7 PWC) to a .139 clip. Burns had the night’s only double-double, tallying a match-high 11 digs and 33 assists in her final home contest of her impressive four-year career.

Freshman middle blocker Ashley Vander Tuig had another strong match, finishing with nine kills and a .438 attack percentage, while adding a match-high five blocks, giving her 123 blocks on the season. Rookie libero Ashley Swatek had 10 digs, three assists, and two aces, while Joy Reinke had two kills, six digs, and two blocks.

The Cougars close out the regular season on Tuesday at Biola, and will have just a day between to prepare for the National Christian College Athletics Association semifinal at California Baptist. Azusa Pacific went 0-2 against the Lancers this season, and had its eight-match winning streak snapped by CBU last Saturday in Riverside. The match is slated for 7 p.m.in the Van Dyne Gym.