AZUSA, Calif. -- The irony is that Jenny Brickner has frequently been unhappy this season with her blocking. The fact is she now is Azusa Pacific’s all-time leader in career assist blocks when she recorded the 389th of her terrific 4-year career in the Cougars 3-0 win over Hope International, Tuesday night, at the Felix Event Center.
The win, combined with Concordia’s loss to California Baptist, moves the NAIA’s No. 14-ranked Azusa Pacific into sole possession of third place 1 game ahead of the Eagles with their crucial showdown slated for Saturday night.
The Cougars took care of business by routing the Royals 30-14, 30-17, 30-19. Azusa Pacific hit .381 for the match and kept Hope International at bay throughout. Jessica DeJager and Brickner combined for 32 kills with DeJager recording a team-high 14 digs. Brickner, who committed only 2 attack errors, continues to lead the GSAC with a .435 hitting percentage but it was her 1 assist block that put her in the record book.
“It is exciting because it’s an accomplishment over the past 4 years,” Brickner said. “This year has been so different from the others because I’ve been learning so much about blocking the right way with no more bad touches.”
Leading 18-9 in the third game, Rayda Jaber was blocked by Brickner and DeJager giving her the record.
In addition to her defense, Brickner has been outstanding offensive force.
“Coming into the season I wanted to hit in the .400s. I’ve improved by 10 percent each season and thought I could do it,” she added.
While the Cougars have had a balanced attack all season DeJager has emerged as a key figure in their success. “It has been a slow process but everyday has been fun and it is coming together. We need to keep working on our focus but I think we’re prepared,” she said.
The preparation DeJager speaks of is for Saturday’s match against Concordia. In the season’s first meeting between the 2 teams, the Eagles knocked off the Cougars, 3-1. A win for Azusa Pacific would mean a 2 game lead over Concordia with 2 regular season games remaining.
“I’m excited about the second round of conference compared to the first because we are such a better team,” said Brickner.
Allison Kincheloe had 41 assists and 6 digs while Colleen Walker added 7 kills and 3 digs.
The Cougars were also terrific defensively as they held the Royals to a .079 hitting percentage.
Hope International was led by Alyson Lumley who recorded 9 kills and 4 digs.
The Cougars (21-6, 12-5) and Eagles (20-6, 11-6) meet on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. at the Felix Event Center.