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Cougars Hit Roadblock

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December 1, 2005
Jason Cannon
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SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- After a promising start to the NAIA Tournament, Azusa Pacific dropped both of its matches Thursday to fall into a third place tie in Pool C with Savannah Art & Design (Ga.).

Sixth-seeded National American (S. D.) defeated the Cougars, 3-0, to move into second place in Pool C behind undefeated Madonna (Mich.). Both knocked off Azusa Pacific on the second day of play.

In the late match, the Mavericks got 23 kills from Leslie DaSilva in posting a 30-25, 30-26, 30-19 victory. National American is now 2-1 in the pool, 1 game behind undefeated Madonna, while Azusa Pacific falls to 1-2.

“They are a good team. Their maturity and experience in the volleyball world surpasses anything we have on our team,” said head coach Chris Keife.

The Mavericks were also solid defensively holding the Cougars to a .072 hitting percentage while hitting .320 themselves.

“We tried to stay aggressive but they were digging everything,” said Colleen Walker who had a team-high 12 kills against the Mavericks. “We struggled to find a rhythm but they got on runs and we had a hard time coming back.”

With a hard fought 3-1 win over Azusa Pacific, Madonna remained undefeated in pool play and handed the Cougars their first loss of the tournament, putting them in a difficult spot heading into tomorrow.

Natalja Tinina and Laura Lesko combined for 43 kills and improved their play as the match went along as Madonna hit .300 and .348 in the final 2 games. Tinina had another solid match after yesterday she set a new Madonna career record for kills with the 2,852 of her career.

The Cougars were paced by 20 kills from Jessica DeJager and 14 kills apiece from Jenny Brickner and Chelsea Morgan.

Ultimately, letting the first game of the match get away proved costly. Trailing 15-14, the Cougars got back-to-back kills from Morgan and Brickner to take a 1 point lead. The brief advantage quickly evaporated when the Crusaders ripped off 6 consecutive points to assume a 21-16 advantage.

However, a kill by DeJager followed by a block courtesy of Brickner and Megan Burch drew Azusa Pacific to within 3 when Madonna began to struggle at an inopportune time.

Ashley Frost and Natalja Tinina committed consecutive hitting errors to give the Cougars 4 straight points. After a kill by Lesko made it 22-20, Brickner answered with 1 of her own and Frost had a bad set that knotted the game at 22 apiece.

However the Crusaders managed to close out the game behind Lesko who put away several kills to seal the win.

Azusa Pacific is slated to play Savannah Art & Design (Ga.) tomorrow afternoon beginning at 1:30 p.m. and is looking to complete pool play at .500. “I want them to be disciplined and execute,” Keife said.

The Cougars and the Bees will be meeting for the second time this season. They went head-to-head at the Fresno Pacific Tournament back in late August when the Bees handed Azusa Pacific its first loss of the season.