AZUSA, Calif.-- The Cougar women’s volleyball team’s six-match winning streak came to a halt on Tuesday night as Azusa Pacific fell in four sets (22-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-19) to California Baptist. Azusa Pacific looked poised to take control of the match late in the second set with a 22-17 lead, but a Lancer run knotted the score at 23-all before CBU came away with a momentum changing 27-25 win in which the Cougars couldn’t overcome.
“I thought we had many opportunities in set two, we just didn’t finish. If we finish that second set it’s a different outcome. It was one of those where the second set got by us and we couldn’t adjust. It’s those opportunities that we need to learn from and get better at. Against good teams you can’t give up runs like that and expect to win,” said head coach Chris Keife.
The Lancers kept the Cougars’ potent attack in check, blocking Azusa Pacific 14 times and out-hitting them in each set. CBU finished at a .228 clip, while Azusa Pacific posted one of its lowest attack percentages of the season, hitting .153, and registering percentages of .000 and .111 in the final two sets to lose its first Pacific West Conference match of the season.
Jr. outside hitter Alicia Utke tied for a game-high 14 kills and added 10 digs for her ninth double-double this season, and Christy Cain tallied 12 kills on 24 swings. Sophomore setters Tristan Racich and Jaden Louie each notched double-doubles in the loss. Racich dished out 24 assists to go with 10 digs, while Louie netted 25 assists and 11 digs in a match that wasn’t lacking for rallies.
The Cougars sided out the Lancers 60 percent of the time in the first set, but saw that rate drop in sets two and three, posting a 53 and 43 percent clip respectively as the Lancers used three 5-0 runs to get their third win over Azusa Pacific in the last four matches.
“We didn’t win one long rally tonight and it’s frustrating. Those are momentum builders, energy points, and they give you a second wind. CBU did a great job fighting and earning those points. I felt we were undisciplined and we couldn’t execute in those moments and that’s something we’ll have to work on,” said Keife.
So. hitter Mattie Shelford recorded 13 kills, while Sr. middle blocker Lauren Edwards finished with nine kills, two assists, four digs, and two block assists. CBU’s Malika O’Brien, who set the program’s single-match blocks record (two solo, 13 assisted) against the Cougars last season, had another impressive night, getting 14 kills, four digs, and 2.5 blocks (1 solo).
The loss ended Azusa Pacific’s nine-match home winning streak, and put a stop to the Cougars’ string of four consecutive assists. The road doesn’t get any easier for Azusa Pacific as it travels to Point Loma (11-3, 5-0) on Thursday night before busing to St. George Utah for a matchup with Dixie State (9-3, 6-0) on Saturday.