AZUSA, Calif. -- Three-time NAIA All-American Jenna Sagehorn had a match-high 19 kills and added 11 digs to lead Azusa Pacific to a key GSAC win over Vanguard, 30-20, 30-10, 26-30, 30-27, in Azusa.
Fighting for their playoff life, the win moves the Cougars one step closer to a postseason berth as they are in a virtual dead heat with Vanguard and Hope International for the sixth and final playoff spot with 3 games to go.
The Cougars stormed out of the gate, playing perhaps their finest volleyball in quite some time, to take a 2-0 lead. Aside from falling behind in the opening point, the Cougars led the entire way through the first 2 games. Leading 19-16 in Game 1, the Cougars scored 11 of the game’s final 15 points behind a balanced attack getting 5 kills from 5 different players.
In the second game, Azusa Pacific opened up a 10-0 lead, 9 of which came off the serve of Christy D’Jernes. Midway through the spurt, D’Jernes served her 156th career ace to become Azusa Pacific’s all-time leader in service aces. Vanguard scored the next 2 points to make it 10-2, but the Cougars, behind 6 kills from Sagehorn, didn’t let the Lions get any closer.
Seemingly turned on by a late-arriving group of Vanguard supporters, the Lions awoke to take a 5-0 lead in the third game. They led for most of the way until the Cougars finally caught them at 17-17. After trading the next 12 points and the game tied 23-23, Vanguard’s Jaclyn Lee served an ace and Keri DeHaas registered one of her 7 kills to give the Lions the lead for good.
With the fourth game tied 11-11, sophomore Katrina Anker took serve for the Cougars and reeled off 4 straight points to open up a 15-11 lead. Vanguard clawed its way back to within 21-20, but 3 straight Cougar kills, including back-to-back kills by Anker gave the Cougars a 24-20 lead. Vanguard got no closer than 26-25 before Roxanna Mercer ended the match with her seventh kill of the night. Anker registered half of her 10 kills in the fourth game.
In all the Cougars hit an efficient .210 for the match, compared to Vanguard’s .016. Sagehorn committed just 3 attack errors in 45 attempts. Anker was the only other Cougar to register double-figure kill totals.
The Cougars served 11 aces and 4 Cougars had double-digit dig totals led by Mercer’s and Adrienne Pepe’s 13.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 16-12 overall, 8-9 GSAC. Vanguard falls to 14-10 overall, 8-10 GSAC.