John Brown opens season with close losses

August 14, 2019


FULLERTON, Calif. – The John Brown University volleyball team opened the 2019 campaign with a pair of setbacks, falling in straight sets to Montana Tech and No. 15 The Master’s (Calif.) inside the Darling Pavilion on the first day of the Hope International (Calif.) Summer Slam on Wednesday (Aug. 14).

Senior Carly McKinney appeared in her first outing since 2017, and contributed a team-best 15 digs on the defensive end, adding onto a five-kill, two-ace effort. Senior and returning All-SAC first teamer Jessica Schultz posted a team-best eight terminations and hit .462 (7-1-13) on the match. She also threw up four block-assists.

Sophomore Jenna Lowery, reigning SAC Freshman of the Year, added 14 scoops on the back row, while both Golden Eagle setters, sophomore Carrie Ciesla and freshman Lauren Cloud, each nearly missed a double-double in the first match of the season. Ciesla finished the match with 14 assists and nine digs, while Cloud added 10 helpers and nine scoops in her collegiate debut.

Both squads struggled to find the offense early, but John Brown (0-2) persisted out to a set-high three-point advantage, 15-12. The Orediggers (1-0) responded, however, and rattled off amd 9-4 run to take its first lead at 21-19 lead. Coming out of a JBU timeout, Montana Tech captured three of the next four points to close out the first set, 25-22.

The second set featured a back-and-forth affair that included back-to-back aces from freshman Jillian Blackman the vaulted the Golden Eagles into a 13-9 advantage. That would vanish, however, as Tech responded to take a 14-13 lead. The streak would finally break at 7-1 over eight rallies when an Oredigger service error and a Jaden Williams rejection knotted the score at 16 apiece. Facing a 21-17 hole, Ciesla served JBU back into contention with an ace and a Beck-Schultz block that again tied the score, this time at 21. However, an attack error and reception error fueled Montana Tech’s final run to a 25-22 win and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

The third and final set was never in doubt as the Orediggers came out with a 11-4 lead to capture the final set running away, 25-15. Tech posted its match-high .333 attack clip (13-1-36) in the last set.

The John Brown hitting finished the contest at .060 (30-23-117), while the Orediggers, carried by its strong third set, ended the match at .155 (30-13-110).

Later in the evening, the Golden Eagles hit the court again to take on No. 15 The Master’s (Calif.). The Mustangs (1-1) came out swinging, hitting over .300 in two of the three sets.

Freshman Ellie Lampton provided a bright spot from the service line as the Siloam Springs native launched four aces, a game high, as Schultz again led the offensive effort, posting a team-best eight kills. Williams turned in an especially strong effort, terminating seven attacks without committing an error to finish the match .438 (7-0-16).

The Golden Eagle attack continued to struggle, hitting just .094 (33-20-138), while The Master’s responded with a .277 (48-12-130) effort.

Ciesla passed out 14 helpers while freshman Morgan Fincham added nine in her collegiate debut. Junior Taylor Glover scooped up 13 attack attempts in the loss.

Back-to-back kills from Glover and Schultz kept JBU in the first set to push the score to 10-9 in favor of the Mustangs. A 6-0 run from TMU placed the Golden Eagles back into a deficit until a Beck kill and a Cloud ace brough John Brown to within four, 19-15. The Mustangs again ended the JBU response quickly, ending the first set on a 6-1 run to close out the set, 25-16.

Nine ties highlighted the back-and-forth second-set battle between the two teams. Tied at 17 apiece after neither team had more than a two-point lead the entire set, the Mustangs ripped off four consecutive points before John Brown responded with back-to-back Lampton aces to pull within one, 21-20. The Golden Eagles wouldn’t get any closer, with TMU finishing off the 25-20 win.

The Golden Eagles continued its hunt for a set victory by keeping close with the Mustangs for yet another nine ties throughout the third. Down 11-9, Lampton and Lowery served John Brown into an 18-13 lead before The Master’s could respond, highlighted by kills from McKinney, Williams and Fincham. Again, the rally would end there, as the Mustangs responded late with an 8-6 run to retake the lead, 21-19. A Williams terminations continued the match, tying the score at 25 apiece, but back-to-back Mustang kills completed the final set, 27-25, and the match.

John Brown returns to action tomorrow (Aug. 15) when the Golden Eagles take on Evergreen State (Wash.) and California – Merced at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively. JBU will then return home to Siloam Springs before continuing the season in Kansas on Aug. 23-24.