HAYWARD, Calif.-- Well it certainly wasn’t a rout, but for the second straight Saturday the Azusa Pacific women’s volleyball team posted a 2-0 mark, finishing the Route 92 Showdown with a 3-1 record following a pair of wins over Seattle Pacific and Cal State Monterey Bay. The Cougars swept the Falcons (25-13, 25-22, 25-18), before edging out the Otters in a tight 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 30-28, 25-20) victory.
Alicia Utke finished with a team-high 30 kills while grabbing her fourth and fifth double doubles of the season as part of the team’s balanced attack. Five players registered 10+ kills against CSUMB as Jaden Louie and Tristan Racich orchestrated one of the best offensive performances of the season. The duo combined for 61 assists, helping the Cougars post a .354 attack percentage as Christy Cain, Lauren Edwards, and Joy Reinke each hit +.400 with double-digit kills to end the Otters’ (6-2) four-match winning streak.
Junior outside hitter Hayley Beetstra had an impressive showing from the right side, tabbing seven kills on 10 attempts, while Cain registered three of her seven blocks against CSUMB in a match that wasn’t lacking for offense.
“Offensively I thought we did fantastic. We received the ball very well, and had a very balanced offense out there. The balance put a lot of pressure on them. It was an offensive juggernaut on both sides. Both teams did want they wanted to do,” said head coach Chris Keife. “I thought against Seattle Pacific we played a good match. We served really well, hit the spots we needed to. Overall I thought we had a great weekend, but we’re looking forward to being at home next week.”
The Cougars’ attack percentage was slightly edged out by the Otters’ who posted a blistering .356 clip. Jessica Malcolm, who set a CSUSMB record for kills in a four-set match on Friday with 27 against Notre Dame de Namur, did most of the damage again, slamming a game-high 21 balls to the floor. Two other Monterey Bay players had double-digit kills.
Azusa Pacific squeaked out the first set against the Otters 25-21 after Utke paced the Cougars with seven kills on 14 attempts while Racich dished out 15 assists. With a 23-22 lead Azusa Pacific got kills from Reinke and Utke to seal the win. In the game neither team led by more than two until Azusa Pacific stretched a 16-15 lead into a 19-15 advantage, its largest of the game.
Azusa Pacific dropped the second set, although it rallied from a 23-20 hole to get within a point at 24-23 prior to a game-clinching kill by DJ Gresham Ryder. In the dramatic third set the Cougars again came back from a 23-20 deficit with a 4-0 run to get its first set point of the game. But the Otters responded with two quick points to take back control before the Cougars eventually took a 2-1 lead with two kills from Beestra and another one from Utke.
The fourth set saw the Cougars take control from start to finish, jumping to a 7-3 lead before grabbing a 25-20 victory to seal the match.
Against the Falcons Utke nabbed her fourth double-double of the season (10 kills, 10 digs), but it was the Cougars’ defense that controlled the match, holding the Falcons to a season-low -.038 attack percentage (22 kills, 26 errors, 105 attempts).
Louie and Racich combined for 38 assists, again directing a well-balanced Azusa Pacific attack. Five players finished with four or more kills, with Cain recording nine on 18 swings. The senior middle also notched four blocks (one solo). Swatek had a team-high 11 digs to with two assists and an ace, and Cori Esparaza chipped in with four digs, two aces, and an assist in the sweep.
It was the fifth consecutive time a Cougar match was decided by a 3-0 score. Azusa Pacific will play its first home match of the season when it takes on San Diego Christian on Tuesday night in the Felix Event Center.