AZUSA, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific women’s volleyball team didn’t trail in either of the first two sets, and pulled away late in the third to post its fourth consecutive sweep on Saturday night, defeating Dominican in straight sets (25-15, 25-21, 25-18). Azusa Pacific improved to 10-2 with the victory, its sixth in a row, while notching its eighth sweep of the season.
“I thought offensively we did really well again. We had good balance and a lot of good options out there. The girls hit for good numbers,” said head coach Chris Keife. “Our goal was to be physical at the net and find the floor. They’re a very good defensive team and they make you earn your points so we had to come out and play a really good game.”
And the Cougars did, dominating the offensive side of the net with a .370 attack percentage thanks to a trio of Cougars with double-figure kills. Sophomore outside hitter Mattie Shelford continued her stellar play, flirting with the single-match attack percentage record with 11 kills on 16 attempts (.688). The reigning Pacific West Conference Player of the Week also assisted on two blocks.
Alicia Utke and Christy Cain had 10 kills apiece, with Cain recording hers at a .421 clip, while Utke finished with 18 digs for her team-leading eighth double-double of the season. Two other Azusa Pacific players were models of efficiency with attack percentages over .500 as Lauren Edwards posted nine kills (.562) and Ashley Midland notched four on eight swings.
Tristan Racich paced Azusa Pacific with 27 assists on 47 sets, while Jaden Louie registered 17 assists in the win. Ashley Swatek was perfect in her 20 serve receptions and tallied 15 digs, two assists, and an ace. Joy Reinke had a match-high 18 digs to go with her six kills.
Azusa Pacific led throughout the first two sets, and jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the opening game before sealing a 1-0 advantage on a Hayley Beetstra kill. In the second set the Cougars grabbed a 15-10 edge on a Reinke ace, but the Penguins (1-12, 0-5) fought back with five straight points, three of which came on Megan Callen kills. Azusa Pacific, however, slowed the Dominican surge, and took 10 of the next 16 points.
In the final set the Cougars and Penguins traded leads three times, and neither team went ahead by more than two until Azusa Pacific turned a 17-16 lead into a 25-18 win on Shelford’s 11th kill of the evening.
The Cougars will return to action on Tuesday night when they welcome California Baptist to the Felix Event Center for a 7:00 p.m. match. The Lancers spoiled Azusa Pacific’s 2012 home opener before the Cougars ended CBU’s season in the NCCAA Regionals in Riverside last year.
“We’re excited to be playing California Baptist. It should be a great crowd and be a lot of fun. They’re a good team, they’re always a tough matchup and they’ll be ready to play I’m sure,” said Keife.