AZUSA, Calif. -- Perhaps during most seasons being on the short end of virtually every statistical category would indicate a loss. However, that is not the way this volleyball campaign is shaping up for Azusa Pacific.
The Cougars (11-1, 3-0) outlasted archrival Biola 3-2 to extend their match winning streak to 8. Seniors Jenny Brickner and Colleen Walker had 18 kills apiece and freshman Brittany Brown added 14 kills and 17 digs in the win.
The Eagles outhit the Cougars .263 to .196 and committed 5 fewer attack errors but, in the end, could not stem the tide of Azusa Pacific momentum in the fifth game.
While the night ended well, it did not start on a good note for Azusa Pacific. Biola sprinted out to a 9-3 lead in the opening game and did not look back in winning 30-20.
“Biola came out playing hard and did a good job,” said Brickner, who also added 9 blocks. “We were out of rhythm because we were not playing in our system. When we found our rhythm we were fine.”
The composed play of the Cougars again served them well as they battled back to take games 2 and 3, each by the slimmest of margins. Azusa Pacific won the second game 30-28, a back-and-forth part of the match during which neither team held a lead larger than 2 points after the Cougars took a 14-12 lead on freshman Allison Kincheloe’s ace.
The third game was hotly contested as well. After trailing for the majority of the game, the Eagles fought back from a 25-22 deficit to take a 29-28 lead. However, junior Chelsea Morgan knotted the game at 29 with a kill turning Biola away. An attack error by the Eagles’ Brittany Wing gave Brown an opportunity to serve for the match and Walker’s kill put the game in the win column for Azusa Pacific, 31-29.
After dropping the fourth game 30-27, the Cougars entered uncharted territory in 2005. “This was our first fifth game of the season and for us to keep our composure was a good thing,” said head coach Chris Keife. “After the first game we wanted to lower our errors to give us an opportunity to win.”
After falling behind 3-1, the Cougars won 7 of the next 9 points to race out in front and swipe momentum away from Biola in front of a vociferous crowd at the Felix Event Center. Leading 12-8, Brown served out the match, winning the final 3 points, for the win.
Brickner hit .483 while recording her 18 kills and played one of her best matches of the season. “They left me open and I took advantage of the opportunities they gave me,” said Brickner. “When I was in transition it was easier to get around their single block.”
Azusa Pacific moved to 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 1990. The Cougars will head to Costa Mesa, Calif. where they will play the NAIA’s No. 22-ranked Vanguard on Friday night at 7 p.m.