El Cajon, Calif.
Azusa Pacific 3
Christian Heritage 2
Junior All-American Jenna Sagehorn had 18 kills and a match-high 21 digs to lead the NAIA’s No. 11-ranked Azusa Pacific to a 5-game win over Christian Heritage, 27-30, 30-26, 30-23, 28-30, 15-9, Tuesday night in El Cajon.
The win tonight sets up Thursday night’s showdown with No. 6-ranked Point Loma Nazarene in Azusa. Both teams are currently tied for second in the GSAC at 15-4, and Thursday’s winner will earn a first round bye in the upcoming NAIA Region II Tournament in Fresno, Calif.
Despite hitting a red-hot .359 in the opening game, the Cougars dropped the opener and fell behind 1-0. However, they managed to fight back and take a 2-1 lead over the next 2 games due in main part to their efficient attacking. The Cougars hit a combined .234 in games 2 and 3. Christian Heritage refused to go away, but the Cougars closed the deal by limiting the Hawks to -.053 hitting the fifth and final game.
Once again Azusa Pacific had a balanced attack as 4 Cougars, led by Sagehorn’s 18, reached double-figures in kills. Roxanna Mercer had 15 kills and 7 digs. Maria Abaca added 13 kills, 7 digs and 4 aces, and Jenny Brickner finished with 12 kills and 6 blocks. As a team, the Cougars hit an efficient .240 for the match and collected 10 total team blocks.
The win is the Cougars 14th in the past 16 matches, and it moves Azusa Pacific to 20-6 overall, 15-4 GSAC. The 15 GSAC wins are the most by any Azusa Pacific team. Christian Heritage drops to 19-17, 8-11.
Now the stage is set for Thursday. In what should be an exciting regular-season finale, the Cougars host the Crusaders at 7 p.m. The Cougars have won 2 of the last 3 from PLNU, including a 5-game thriller Oct. 10 when the Cougars knocked off the No. 3-ranked Crusaders in San Diego.