AZUSA, Calif. -- Sometimes you dig yourself a hole so deep its nearly impossible to crawl out of, and that's what happened to No. 14-ranked Azusa Pacific Tuesday in its GSAC opener with Biola as the Cougars fell 14-30, 34-36, 30-26, 27-30 in front of a raucous home crowd of nearly 500.
Azusa Pacific suffers its third straight loss and falls to 5-3 overall, 0-1 GSAC, while Biola remains perfect at 11-0, 1-0 GSAC.
The Eagles, ranked No. 16 in the NAIA, came out sizzling, hitting 40% and taking the opening game 30-14 from a shell-shocked set of Cougars that never recovered. The Cougars committed a costly 7 attacking errors alone and were completely taken out of their offensive flow by a hot-hitting Eagle squad. Amber Steig was the big force for Biola, registering 6 kills without an error. Biola led 10-6 when Steig recorded her third kill of the game to ignite a 7-2 Eagle run that in essence put the game away.
Azusa Pacific led for most of the second game, surging out to a 10-4 lead on the strength of sophomore Maria Abaca, who collected 3 kills in that run. The Cougars led 13-9 before Biola climbed within 13-12 but could never get over the hump. Later in the game, the Cougars led 25-21 and seemed on the verge of putting the match away, but Biola again fought back to tie the match at 27-27 until the teams exchanged the next 14 points. With the game tied 34-34, Biola got a kill from setter Amy Fisher, then wrapped up a 36-34 win on a Cougar attack error.
With game 3 tied 10-10, the Cougars began to take over, scoring 7 straight points and eventually opening up a 20-12 lead. Biola answered to tie the game 22-22, but the Cougars put the game away to force a fourth game with an 8-4 run.
Game 4 was tied 16-16 when the Eagles began to take charge, opening up a 25-20 lead, then keeping the Cougars at bay, and not allowing them any closer than a 2 point deficit until taking the match with a 30-27 win.
Four Cougars reached double-figures in kills led by junior All-American Jenna Sagehorn with 18. Abaca finished with 16. Junior Roxana Mercer tallied 12, and freshman Jenny Brickner added 11 kills and a team-high 6 blocks. Senior T.J. Gause finished with a match-high 22 digs, and junior Christy Kimmel added 16.