AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific can be excused tonight if it was less than sharp in its play. The Cougars were coming off of 4 straight grueling victories over nationally-ranked teams, and the grind took its toll. Nonetheless, Azusa Pacific overcame some sluggish play early on and rallied to beat Vanguard, 28-30, 30-15, 30-21, 30-18, in a GSAC match in Azusa.
Azusa Pacific couldn't overcome its sloppiness in the early going. Though the Cougars led the majority of the first game, they were never able to pull away, hitting just 19%. Vanguard, which trailed nearly the entire first game, was never down by more than 5 points and stayed within striking distance, taking advantage of numerous Cougar mistakes until they were able to tally 3 straight points and take the first game 30-28.
Azusa Pacific heard the wake-up call and responded, scoring 36 of the match's next 53 points to take game two and move out to a comfortable lead in game three. All-American Jenna Sagehorn put the team on her shoulders and carried it out of the doldrums. Over the final 3 games, the Cougars were sharp, hitting at nearly a 34% clip to put away the Lions. Sagehorn finished with a match-high 18 kills. Freshman Jenny Brickner chipped in with 14.
With the win, Azusa Pacific, which is ranked No. 6 in the NAIA, has now won 9 straight matches, it's longest winning streak since 1992. The Cougars, who improve to 15-4 overall, 10-2 in the GSAC, has now won 7 straight over Vanguard. The Lions falls to 7-14 overall, 3-10 in the GSAC.