SAN DIEGO, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific women's volleyball team took three-of-four matches this weekend in San Diego to start the season, including a pair of straight-set victories Saturday over Cal State Stanislaus (25-18, 25-20, 25-13) and Montana State-Billings (25-17, 26-24, 25-9) to conclude the first tournament of the season.
Junior outside hitter Alicia Utke posted double-doubles in each of the matches, giving the Los Alamitos High School product three in her first season as a Cougar. Utke tallied 25 kills and 25 digs on the day, helping Azusa Pacific (3-1) earn its first sweep of the season.
The Cougars notched a season-best .299 kill percentage against Cal State Stanislaus (3-1) as five attackers recording more than five kills, with setters Tristan Racich and Jaden Louie splitting time on the court. Racich finished with 21 kills in the first two sets before Louie came in to add 20 more.
Azusa Pacific jumped out to early leads and cruised in both the first and third sets of the match, but was forced to raise its level late in the second. The Cougars only trailed once in the second set, but saw its lead cut to one at 18-17. The Cougars pushed their edge back to five, taking advantage of a pair of Warrior errors and a pair of kills from Utke. Azusa Pacific went on to take three of the next six points to win the set 25-20.
The Cougars brought their first-match momentum into the Montana State-Billings tilt (1-2), recording a .298 kill percentage in the straight-set victory. Utke led the Cougars with 14 kills, while Christy Cain, Lauren Edwards, and Joy Reinke each tallied seven. Racich collected 24 assists in the win.
Once again, Azusa Pacific had to battle through a tight second game and turned to Utke to close it out. The Cougars led 20-16 before the Yellowjackets reeled off eight points in a row with six kills, earning triple set point. A pair of Yellowjacket errors erased the first two set points before Utke had three straight kills to claim the set 26-24.
Sophomore libero Ashley Swatek had 29 digs for the Cougars in the two matches, while junior defensive specialist Cori Esparza chipped in with 17. Azusa Pacific combined for11 blocks in the two matches.
The Cougars cruised in the final set 25-9, giving them their third win of the season. Azusa Pacific will get back on the courts next week as part of a Friday-Saturday at the Route 92 showdown in Hayward, Calif.