Golden Eagles Move to 13-2, Down Texas Wesleyan and Ozarks
SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (September 10, 2012) - John Brown, behind a raucous crowd at Bill George Arena, overcame a feisty effort from the visiting College of the Ozarks and gutted out a gritty 3-0 (25-19, 26-24, 26-24) win tonight to move to an impressive 13-2 overall record on the 2012 season.
JBU moves to 2-0 at the friendly confines of its home venue in Siloam Springs.
Freshman sensation Audrey Dearien's lethal hits led the way for the Golden Eagles as the Frisco, Texas native post 20 kills on the evening, a match-high. Perhaps even more impressively, Dearien's .324 hitting percentage led all player with more than a single kill.
"(My success) really comes from the support of my teammates and the hard work we put into practice," admitted Dearien, eclipsing the 20-kill mark for the third time this season. "We practice hard to play hard.
"When I'm on attack, I try to mix it up, so it's more than kills, it's hitting in general. I try to keep the opposing team off balance by attacking differently, making them think twice when anticipating a hard kill."
Dearien stepped up in a big way to help JBU jump pull away from a tight score late in the first set. With the teams deadlocked at 17, Dearien rattled off five kills en route to the John Brown 25-19 win.
"Audrey (Dearien) has been simply great," said head coach Stacie Johnson of Dearien's maturity as a freshman. "We're always talking about her reactions to the block; she's not used to the big blocks at the college level yet. It's taken some time, but if she listens to her back row players, her size and composure will lead to stability and success."
The Golden Eagles found themselves down late again (20-14) in the second set, but managed a furious comeback, ignited by Bobcat errors, to tie the game at 22-all. Kills by Stacie Williamson, Erin Didier and Libby Blasingame capped the comeback, resulting in a JBU 26-24 dramatic victory.
The third set was similar to the second as both teams found themselves knotted at 24. Despite the similar score, it was College of the Ozarks that stayed neck-and-neck with the Golden Eagles, who held the advantage for the majority of the game.
In anticlimactic fashion, the tired Bobcats committed back-to-back errors, one service and one hitting, as JBU captured the match.
"One might argue that College of the Ozarks had their legs because they were coming off a match with Texas Wesleyan," noted Johnson of the lackluster Blue and Gold start. "But, we had a match to rest and there's no excuse for coming out flat. Yes, we've played six matches in four days, but the ladies know we can't put ourselves in that situation time and time again."
Kailey Bain handed in an outstanding match for John Brown, notching 19 assists.
"The numbers show I had a good passing game, but I didn't play to my potential," Bain humbly admitted. "All we can do from this point is take into account what went wrong and fix it in practice. It was a learning experience for us.
"Hopefully our play will return to normal for this weekend's tournament."
Defensively, Didier recorded 13 digs, followed by Becca Young's nine. Dearien and Erin McIlroy each added seven. Overall, the John Brown defense held the Rams at bay, allowing the visitors a meager .101 attack percentage.
Earlier today, the Golden Eagles swept Texas Wesleyan for the second time this season, 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 27-25).
John Brown will now rest until Friday afternoon when it welcomes nine programs to Siloam Springs for the John Brown University Invitational. The Golden Eagles will find itself matched up with Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas), Peru State (Neb.), Southern Nazarene (Okla.) and a rematch with Wiley (Texas), one of JBU's two losses on the season.
"Southern Nazarene is transitioning to NCAA II, and they will definitely be our toughest competition this weekend," said Johnson. "It comes down to a simple concept - we need to play our game, regardless of the competition.
"That's a goal we're going to address in practice this week."