COSTA MESA, Calif. -- With a 10-7 lead over host Vanguard in the fifth and deciding game, the NAIA’s No. 12-ranked Azusa Pacific seemed headed for its fifth 5-game victory in 6 tries this season, but the Lions had different ideas, reeling off 4 straight points to spark a comeback that sent the Cougars to an 18-30, 30-27, 30-26, 31-33, 15-13 defeat.
Vanguard, which knocked off its second straight top-ranked opponent following an Oct. 17 5-game win over No. 3-ranked California Baptist, used 3 kills and a block to take an 11-10 lead, then emerged from a 13-13 tie with a kill from Michal Shortridge and a Kim Wynn service ace to seal the win.
Freshman Jill Baker posted her fourth straight 20-kill performance, finishing with a team-high 25 kills and a season-high 24 digs to lead the Cougars. Senior Chelsea Morgan added 16 kills with just 3 errors, hitting at a .481 attack percentage while collecting a career-high 10 blocks, and sophomore Megan Burch posted 14 kills and 10 digs, her second straight double-double.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific drops into a fourth-place tie with Point Loma Nazarene in the GSAC standings at 9-5 in conference play. The Cougars drop to 17-6 overall, while Vanguard improves to 5-9 in GSAC, 12-10 overall. Azusa Pacific returns to action Oct. 24 at Fresno Pacific before returning home to take on The Master’s Oct. 27 in a Saturday afternoon contest at 2:30 p.m.