SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 16-ranked Azusa Pacific lost the first game of the match but promptly stormed back to defeat Westmont, 3-1 (27-30, 30-23, 30-19, 30-23), in GSAC volleyball action, Saturday night, at Murchison Gym.
The Cougars, who snapped a 2-match losing streak, upped their record to 14-5 overall and 6-4 in GSAC play as they had 5 players who recorded double-figures in kills. The Warriors drop to 13-7 overall and 5-5 in conference action. The win was important for the Cougars because they were involved in a 5-way tie for third place at the start of the night.
Chelsea Morgan led Azusa Pacific with 23 kills and Megan Burch recorded 17 as the Cougars hit .333 for the match. Burch turned in one of her finest performances of the season as she hit .538 against the Warriors.
“In games 2, 3, and 4 we played really well,” said head coach Chris Keife. “We tightened up our defense and played consistently.”
After dropping the first game, Azusa Pacific turned up the heat in game 2. The Cougars hit .395 as they tallied 20 kills while committing only 5 errors. With the score tied at 10, Burch sandwiched a pair of kills around a block by Jenny Brickner and Jessica DeJager to claim a 13-10 lead that they would not relinquish in winning the game by 7.
In game 3, the Warriors jumped out to a 10-8 advantage before the Cougars, aided by 2 Morgan kills, reeled off 4 consecutive points to take a 12-10 lead. Westmont’s Allegra Willis recorded a kill to pull the Warriors to within 1 but the Cougars ripped off 5 of the next 6 points to keep them at bay.
Azusa Pacific finished the match off in the fourth game but not without a fight from the Warriors. Leading 21-20, the Cougars scored the next 8 points to end the suspense. DeJager and Morgan had 6 kills between them in finishing off Westmont.
The Cougars got solid performances from many of their players but Burch continues to develop into a force. “Megan did very well tonight,” Keife said. “Her blocking and hitting have continued to develop and tonight she put the ball away without trying to do too much.”
Azusa Pacific played outstanding defense in the match. The Cougars recorded 70 digs compared to 49 for the Warriors.
Setter Allison Kincheloe finished the match with 69 assists and 12 digs. Libero Brittany Brown had a match-high 27 digs for the Cougars.
Azusa Pacific continues GSAC play by facing San Diego Christian on Tuesday night, Oct. 11, at the Felix Event Center at 7 p.m.