Azusa Pacific 1
Azusa, Calif. – The NAIA's No. 18-ranked Azusa Pacific couldn’t overcome a sluggish start or Notre Dame de Namur’s Ashley Hardwick as the Cougars fell to the Argonauts, 19-30, 26-30, 30-27, 26-30, in the final match of the first-ever Azusa Pacific Invitational Saturday night.
The loss snaps the Cougars’ 5-game win streak and puts them at 8-3 heading into GSAC action, which gets underway Tuesday night at home against Hope International
Hardwick finished with a match-high 27 kills and 24 digs, also a match-high to pace the Argonaut attack, which seemed to be a step quicker than the Cougars.
The Argonauts opened up rather large leads in all 4 games, including a 17-5 advantage in the second game, forcing the Cougars to play catch-up the entire night.
In the second game, the Cougars nearly pulled even with the Argonauts after digging a 17-5 hole. A Roxanna Mercer kill made it 27-24, and a Hardwick error pulled the Cougars to within 27-25. However, Hardwick pushed the lead back up to 3 and then ended the game with a kill.
The Cougars trailed 14-6 in the third game before mounting a furious charge, sparked by freshman setter Rachel Rubenstein, who had 3 kills, a block, an ace and a pair of assists, as the Cougars came all the way back to take just their third lead of the match, 25-22.
Aside from a brief 7-6 Cougar lead, Notre Dame controlled the fourth game as well, opening up a comfortable 19-11 lead on another Hardwick kill. A pair of Hardwick kills gave the Argonauts a 29-23 lead before the Cougars rolled off 3 straight points to make things interesting, but a Cougar attack error closed out the match.
Christy D’Jernes led Azusa Pacific with 12 kills, hitting at a stellar .455 clip. She had just 2 attack errors in 22 attempts. Jenny Brickner added 10 kills and 8 blocks. Sagehorn had 7 kills and a team-high 18 digs, while Mercer finished with 7 kills, 12 digs and 7 blocks.