BELMONT, Calif.-- When head coach Chris Keife took over the Azusa Pacific women’s volleyball program, the team had recorded 10 20-win seasons in its 28-year history. Now in his 10th season as head coach, Keife has tallied just as many 20-win seasons as the six preceding head coaches following the team’s 3-1 victory over Notre Dame de Namur on Thursday night.
“I feel our program is going in the right direction. The success we’ve had allows me to reflect on all of the athletes and memories. I remember all of the good times with the players that have come through here and how they’ve built this program. It’s important to keep continuing with our success,” said Keife. “I think the girls have been playing well all season. I’m enjoying this team and the work ethic they’ve had since the beginning. We’ve had struggles and success and I’m excited to see where we’ll be when we end the regular season ends.”
With his 10th consecutive 20-win season, Keife, who is now 244-101 all-time, became the fifth coach in Azusa Pacific athletics history to reach the milestone, joining men’s basketball coach Bill Odell, softball coach Sharon Lehman, and baseball coaches Paul Svagdis and Tony Barbone. Alane LeGrand, Linda Wills, Lori Kildal, and Gerry Gregory all guided Azusa Pacific volleyball to 20-win seasons during their tenures.
After splitting the first two sets, the Cougars saved four set-points in the third set before taking the fourth set for a 25-16, 23-25, 27-25, 25-18 victory. The Cougars had four attackers with double digit kills, including senior Christy Cain, who was errorless on the night with 15 kills and no errors on 32 attempts.
Senior Lauren Edwards tallied 13 kills on 27 swings to go along with five blocks in the match. Two of Edwards’ blocks came late in the third set, preventing the Cougars from facing a 2-1 deficit heading into the fourth.
Sophomore setters Jaden Louie and Tristan Racich combined for 56 assists in the match, with two aces, and 19 digs as they led the Cougar offense, which recorded a .243 kill percentage on the night.
Sophomore Mattie Shelford and junior Alicia Utke were the other Cougars with double-digit kills at 13 and 10 respectively. Utke also had 16 digs in the match, while sophomore libero Ashley Swatek had a match-high 23 digs.
The Argonauts had three set points in the third set when the Cougars rattled off three points in a row on a kill from Edwards, a block from Shelford and Edwards, and an ace by Louie. Azusa Pacific saved the fourth set point on a kill by Shelford and eventually won the set after a kill from Joy Reinke and solo block by Edwards.
Brooke DeMiguel led Notre Dame de Namur with 18 kills on the night with seven errors and 45 attacks. As a unit, the Argonauts had a .125 kill percentage in the match.
This was the first of three matches for the Cougars this weekend in Northern California to conclude the regular season. Azusa Pacific will face Holy Names on Friday and Dominican on Saturday to conclude the road trip and regular season before competing in the NCCAA playoffs.