AZUSA, Calif. --- After falling behind in the first game and trailing most of the second, California Baptist University found its rhythm and took three-straight sets on the road to score a big comeback victory over Azusa Pacific Tuesday night.
The Lancers won 3-1 (22-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-19) to move to 6-0 in the PacWest and take the first edition of the rivalry series with the Cougars.
“We switched some things up in second game and it really came together for us,” said CBU Head Coach Branden Higa. “It’s tough for a team to make an adjustment mid-game like that, but the girls responded well. The key was that we stuck together and didn’t get down.”
After letting the opener get away from them and trailing much of the second, the Lancers stormed back with a four-point run to even the second set at 23-23.
After trading points, CBU got set point on an APU service error and then Lauren Marr stepped up with a solo block to terminate a long rally and give the Lancers the match-evening game.
The Lancers got three blocks en route to coming back from a 22-17 deficit in the second. CBU hit .421 in the game and got seven kills out of the middle.
It was early in the third when CBU made its run, coming back from an 8-4 deficit to go up 12-11. The two teams played nearly even, but with the score tied 20-20 it was all CBU down the home stretch.
A bad set followed by a Taylor Parker service ace gave the Lancers a two-point lead and led to an APU timeout. Out of the break Parker again struck from the service line and then a Jenna Perry kill off the Cougar block gave the Lancers set point. Jelena Dragovic finished it off by sending a free ball to the back of the court, as the Lancers ended the game on a five-point run.
The Lancer block continued to dominate in the fourth as CBU pulled away 9-5 early. CBU would weather one APU run as the Cougars pulled within one at 11-10, but APU never took the lead all the way back as the Lancers pulled away late.
An 8-3 run midway through the game put CBU up for good.
“Our block really stepped it up and we came together defensively,” said Higa. “That’s a huge key for us to play consistently.”
The Lancers owned a 14-6 advantage on the block, holding the Cougars to a .153 hitting percentage.
O’Brien posted a match-high 14 kills, hitting .312 in the contest. Dragovic added 11 kills and the two middles each had six blocks. Lauren Marr also posted 11 kills as CBU hit .228 on the night.
Alicia Utke had 14 kills for APU and Ashley Swatek had 21 digs.
“It’s always great to come here and get a win,” said Higa. “We’ve been looking forward to and training for this match for a while.”
The win moves CBU to 9-5 overall and drops the Cougars to 10-3, 3-1.