SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- When Jenny Brickner ended Azusa Pacific’s match on Friday afternoon she had no idea that it would be her last kill in a Cougar uniform.
Despite their 3-1 win over Savannah Art & Design (Ga.) that evened their pool play record at 2-2, the Cougars were not able to advance to the quarterfinals of the NAIA Tournament by virtue of National American’s victory over Madonna (Mich.). The Mavericks win put both teams at 3-1 and prevented Azusa Pacific from advancing.
The Cougars were focused on their early afternoon match which began just as the other was concluding leaving some unaware of the final outcome including Brickner who wound up finishing the match giving her team a 30-27, 30-18, 24-30, 30-16 win.
While it was a disappointing outcome in terms of advancing the Azusa Pacific were able to right the ship after dropping 2 matches yesterday. Chelsea Morgan led the Cougars with 21 kills while the 3 seniors, Brickner, Jessica DeJager and Colleen Walker, combined for 43 kills in their final match.
“When we were warming up coach told us not to look at the scoreboard because we had to focus on what we were doing so I didn’t look,” said Brickner. “I went the entire match thinking Madonna had won and we still had a chance. But then coach put in all the seniors at the end all of the seniors were on the court and (Allison) Kincheloe set me up on the last one and I got the kill.”
Despite the frustration of not advancing the Cougars were able to knock off a Savannah Art & Design team that had beaten them last season and at the Sunbird Invitational in August.
“I was excited to end it against SCAD because they are a team I have wanted to beat the past 2 years,” she added. “It is a good feeling to know that that I ended it that way.”
Brickner wraps up her career with 1,336 kills which gives her solid footing on third place on the all-time list.
Head coach Chris Keife couldn’t be prouder of his unit that finished 26-11. “I think potentially we maxed out. I thought we reached our potential and did a great job,” Keife said. “I think we were one of the best teams in the nation. We might not have been the most physical or the most skilled but we were by far the best team and I’m proud of that.”
Brickner along with Walker and DeJager conclude their Cougar careers. Walker wraps up her 2-year stint at Azusa Pacific with 714 career kills while DeJager proved to be a valuable player this season finishing second on the team with an average of 3.70 kills per game.
“Our seniors accomplished a lot here at APU. Jenny Brickner put her heart and soul into this program and Colleen and Jessica as transfers came in and provided maturity. I have really enjoyed coaching them,” Keife said.
While the current team will look different at several spots next year a solid nucleus will be back including Kincheloe who broke the Cougars’ single-season assist record during the national tournament with a new mark of 1,786.
However the spotlight rightfully belonged to the seniors. “The young ones really look up to those 3 girls and they have established things that will be here at Azusa for years to come,” added Keife.