SAN DIEGO, Calif. --- A 15-1 run in the clinching fourth game, finished off the most impressive win to date of the 2013 season for California Baptist University, as the Lancers downed No. 25 Point Loma 3-1 (26-24, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16) on the road Tuesday night.
In a battle for second place in the PacWest standings, CBU paid back an earlier season loss to the Sea Lions by ending PLNU’s 11-match home winning streak to move to 13-2 in conference play and 16-7 overall. CBU sits just a match back of No. 4 BYU-Hawaii for the top spot in the PacWest, with the Seasiders coming to town Nov. 8.
“This was a big match for us tonight and the girls responded really well,” said CBU Head Coach Branden Higa. “There were a lot of ups and downs, but we weathered all of them and finished strong.”
In what had been a very tightly contested match Tuesday, the Lancers broke the fourth set wide open by rattling off 10 consecutive points after a 5-1 run to bury the Sea Lions. CBU trailed 12-8 when the run started and were well on their way to victory when PLNU finally scored its 14th point.
Jelena Dragovic blasted a kill and served an ace to get CBU headed back in the right direction after trailing by four early and then Malika O'Brien and Kim McCalmont combined on a block to pull the Lancers to within one. Two PLNU errors gave CBU a 13-12 lead and eight more during the 10-0 sprint more than helped the Lancers along the way. McCalmont also had three kills to help the Lancers put the match away.
“Our service pressure and defensive intensity picked up, especially in the third and fourth sets and that really got them off their game,” said Higa.
After the teams traded runs out of the gate, the Lancers and Sea Lions played nearly even until late in the opening set when CBU finally found three-straight points to go up 22-19. Dragovic and McCalmont ripped back-to-back kills, followed by a PLNU error to give the visitors a bit of breathing room.
The Sea Lions battled back quickly, however, evening the set at 23-23 and then grabbing game point with a big block of McCalmont. The CBU senior came right back on the following play, blasting her seventh kill of the set to fight off the loss. From there Tori Hinderaker took over from the service line, floating in a pair of aces to give the Lancers a spectacular game one win.
PLNU came right back to even the match, winning the second game by four thanks to a late run. As it did all night, CBU had a decisive answer, taking yet another close game to go up 2-1 in the match. A key block by O’Brien and Jenna Perry gave CBU set point after the teams had been tied late in the game and O’Brien would finish it off with a kill from the middle.
McCalmont posted 14 kills and five blocks on the night and Lauren Marr added 12 kills on a blistering .435 hitting percentage. O’Brien had five blocks as well as CBU controlled the net with an 11-6 blocking advantage.
“Lauren did a great job taking care of the ball tonight and attacking efficiently,” said Higa. “Katie Rotondo’s 19 digs were big defensively for us as well. She did a lot to steady us defensively.”
Kelly LeClair had 14 kills and Heather Leavitt added 13 for the Sea Lions. PLNU had 31 attack errors to 19 for the Lancers.
The Sea Lions fall to 19-6 overall, 12-3 PacWest.