August 15, 2019
By JOHN BROWN SPORTS INFORMATION
FULLERTON, Calif. – Behind a 14-kill effort from senior Jessica Schultz in the first match of the day against Evergreen State (Wash.) and a strong defensive team effort against California, Merced, the John Brown University volleyball team evened its record to 2-2 on the young season on Thursday (Aug. 15) inside the Darling Pavilion.
JBU dispatched Evergreen State in five (25-16, 25-21, 18-25, 22-25, 15-12) before sweeping past California, Merced (25-13, 26-24, 25-21).
“Our trip out to California provided our team with the opportunity to play some really high-caliber teams at the HIU Summer Slam tournament,” head coach Ken Carver said. “While we definitely struggled with the consistency of our execution on the first day of the tournament, I was really pleased with our team’s ability to re-focus and come out ready to play on the second day of the tournament. The first sets of both of our matches on the second day of the tournament provided our team and our fans a glimpse of what our team is capable of doing in terms of our offensive potential and serving aggressiveness.
“With only eight days to prepare for this tournament, I knew that we stood a good chance of being inconsistent offensively as we’re still very much developing the chemistry between all of our hitters and setters as well as the meshing of our new players with the core group of returning players. Whereas on the first day we struggled to close out sets and breakdown mentally when not playing well, our team showed a lot more grit and poise today when our opponents pushed runs of points. We did a much better job of letting go of our mistakes and working to play the next ball. I was also really pleased with the team’s overall performance from the service line and our service reception. I think those two areas were where our team performed the best. We had moments of playing really stellar defense, but need to keep working on our defensive discipline as well as bettering our blocking performance.
“All in all, to come away from this very competitive tournament experience, on such short amount of preparation time, I am very pleased with where our team is starting out at. With another week of practice ahead of our second weekend tournament, I am expecting to continue ironing out the kinks and finding a more consistent rhythm with our team that will hopefully lead to an even better result on the court our second week out.”
Against Evergreen State, Schultz led the way with an impressive hitting performance, collecting 14 kills and hit .619 (14-1-21) to lead all attackers in the contest. She also contributed four block assists. Senior Carly McKinney and junior Taylor Glover each posted their first double-digit termination match of the season, as the duo combined for 10 kills apiece. McKinney completed her first double-double of the season by leading all players with 26 digs.
Sophomore Carrie Ciesla notched a career high with 29 assists on John Brown’s 52 kills on the match.
The Golden Eagles (2-2) dominated from the service line, launching 10 aces on Evergreen. McKinney had four, while freshmen Ellie Lampton and Lauren Cloud added three and two, respectively.
John Brown never trailed in the first set – running out to a 17-9 lead courtesy of a difficult Geoduck outing offensively as ESC posted a .051 (9-7-39) mark in the opening game. JBU replied with a .278 clip (13-3-36), its best single-set outing of the 2019 season so far.
Again, the Blue and Gold never trailed in the second set, but this wasn’t without drama. Back-to-back Schultz terminations was followed by a pair of Lampton aces to hand the Golden Eagles a 15-8 advantage. Later, with a 19-10 lead, JBU had to battle through a 11-3 Evergreen run that pulled the Geoducks within one, 22-21. Junior Jaden Williams and senior Kinzee Mayo combined on a block to end the ESC rally in its tracks, as another Geoduck attack error followed by a Mayo-Schultz rejection ended the set in favor of the Golden Eagles.
Sets three and four featured tight battles that saw Evergreen pull off mid-to-late set rallies – knotting the score at two apiece and forcing a fifth and deciding game.
Three early ties in the fifth set was finally broken by terminations from McKinney and Williams, and punctuated by a Lauren Cloud ace that gave JBU a 6-3 lead. ESC would pull within one, but a string of unforced errors allowed the Golden Eagles to retain an 11-7 lead. The Geoducks replied with a 5-1 rally to tie the match as 12, but Schultz’s kill followed by a pair of Evergreen attack errors ended any chance of a rally.
JBU finished the match hitting .119 (52-29-193), but kept Evergreen at bay, holding the Geoducks to a mere .109 (53-33-187).
The second match of the day was far less dramatic as the Merced attack, .023 (34-31-130), only had enough gas to give the Golden Eagles one close set.
A balanced attack for John Brown featured eight kills from Mayo, a second high, and seven from senior Megan Beck. However, it was the JBU defensive effort that solidified the win.
McKinney scooped up another 20-dig effort, while Schultz and Mayo led the way with four blocks apiece as John Brown posted 14 block-assists to hold the Bobcats in check. Williams also contributed three rejections in the win.
Cloud and McKinney each served up three aces as the Golden Eagles finished the tournament with 31 aces, averaging just shy of eight per match.
In the first set, John Brown blew open a narrow 11-9 lead to take a 20-12 advantage, courtesy of a Cloud ace. Three consecutive Merced attack miscues fueled the Golden Eagle run to clinching the first set. JBU finished the set on a 14-4 rally.
A 7-1 John Brown rally to open the second forced a quick Bobcat timeout, and before Merced could rally, the Golden Eagles had built a 10-2 lead. Miscues allowed Merced to build some momentum, however, and three straight Bobcat kills that tied the match at 20 apiece forced Ken Carver to burn a timeout.
The squads traded points through eight rallies as the match was tied at 24. A Mayo kill from Cloud gave the Golden Eagles the advantage, and a subsequent Merced attack error ended the set that the Bobcats nearly stole.
Instead, the Golden Eagles carried a 2-0 lead into the third set – one that featured 10 ties and six lead changes. Neither team had more than a one-point lead until back-to-back blocks gave John Brown a small 3-0 rally to take an 18-15 lead. That’s all the Blue and Gold would need as the lead eventually grew to five, 23-18, until Beck’s kill ended the match from Ciesla.
John Brown, now back to .500, returns to action in Hutchinson, Kan., on Aug. 23-24. The Golden Eagles face a quartet of Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference foes in the annual KCAC Fall Fling.