FULLERTON, Calif.-- The Azusa Pacific women’s volleyball team fell to Academy of Art in four sets (25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 25-20) on Friday night. The Cougars, playing a home match in Darling Pavilion at Hope International University in Fullerton with the Felix Event Center booked, never gained their rhythm offensively, hitting just .160 to drop to 4-3 in Pacific West Conference action.
The Urban Knights (8-9, 4-5) gained a quick 2-0 advantage and the Cougars (11-5) couldn’t recover despite a comeback bid in the third set. In the final game Academy of Art kept Azusa Pacific from rallying, siding out the Cougars at a 71 percent clip in a deciding 25-20 fourth set.
Mattie Shelford posted a team-high 10 kills, while Lauren Edwards was the lone Cougar to record an attack percentage over .200 (.250). Christy Cain and Alicia Utke each registered nine kills in the loss, and Tristan Racich finished with 28 assists.
Junior Cori Esparza ignited an Azusa Pacific rally in the third set, taking the serve at 9-9 and giving the team a 13-9 lead following on a 4-0 run thanks to a pair of aces. The Cougars overcame a 7-1 deficit in the set, and registered a match-high .267 attack percentage.
Azusa Pacific struggled to find the floor against a scrappy Urban Knights squad, tabbing just 42 kills on 144 attacks. Three Academy of Art players finished with double-digit digs, led by Kanoe Irvine’s 20-dig performance. Ashley Swatek recorded a team-high 19 digs, while Utke notched 19 in Azusa Pacific’s first ever loss to the Urban Knights.
The Cougars will have a chance to get back on track on Saturday when they welcome Dixie State to the Felix Event Center for a 3 p.m. matchup. Azusa Pacific defeated the Red Storm in St. George, Utah last weekend, and leads the all-time series 3-0.