Golden Eagles storm back to beat City
Sophomore Bayli Reagan posted a career-high 19 kills and senior Alyssa Arnold passed out a career-best 51 assists as the John Brown University volleyball team ended a 10-match losing skid versus Oklahoma City as the Golden Eagles rallied from an 2-0 hole to defeat the Stars 3-2 (2527, 23-25, 25-17, 25-17, 15-13) on Friday evening inside the Bill George Arena.
The victory not only ended City’s 23-match Sooner Athletic Conference win streak, which dated back to Oct. 30, 2015, but also put a stop to JBU’s own losing skid against the Stars, which spanned 1,771 days back to Nov. 9, 2012.
John Brown (10-2, 2-0 Sooner Athletic) was consistent throughout the match and hit at a .240 percentage clip, thanks to Arnold’s career-high passing total and double-digit kill outputs from Reagan and sophomores Jessica Meyer and Carly McKinney, who each boasted 13 apiece. Reagan and McKinney picked up double-doubles, scooping 17 and 13, respectively, while Arnold also finished with a double-double, notching 21 digs.
Consecutive kills from Meyer knotted the first set at 22 apiece, but the Stars (5-5, 2-1) broke the tie three times, including a JBU set point, to take the first set. The second frame was nearly identical as the first, with OCU overcoming a late deficit to force a trio of late ties at 21, 22 and 23 each. Again, City notched two straight to claim a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead in the match.
Then the tide shifted towards the home team.
After hitting .323 in the first two sets, City cooled off over the next two, hitting just .122 while the John Brown offense heated up.
With the third tied at 10, the Golden Eagles finally pieced together the run it had worked towards all night, and took a 15-10 lead. City responded with taking five of the next six, prompting head coach Ken Carver to burn a timeout. Out of the timeout, JBU responded with taking 10 of the
Obviously tonight’s result against OCU was a tremendous win for our program and a true testament to the grit and determination of the young ladies on our team. — Ken Carver, head coach
next 13 to close out the set. Five Stars’ errors fueled the Golden Eagle rally.
A trio of Reagan kills capped off a 7-1 run for JBU early in the fourth to build a seven-point advantage, 11-4. City would narrow the gap down to as many as three, but two terminations from junior Bailey Sager rebuilt the seven-point margin to 20-13. With all the momentum, sophomore Lindsey Davis smacked consecutive kills to force a fifth and decisive set.
An early 6-1 rally, prompted by back-toback Meyer kills and finished with consecutive kills from Reagan forced a City timeout down 8-3. The Stars weren’t willing to let their streak end without a fight, clawing its way back to force a 13-all draw. McKinney then sent a strike down the line the officials would later award to JBU after grazing a City finger at the net and Reagan capped off her career evening with a kill from the left side to close the match to the approval of a raucous Bill George Arena crowd.
“Obviously tonight’s result against OCU was a tremendous win for our program and a true testament to the grit and determination of the young ladies on our team,” Carver said. “After several weeks on the road to open our season, our team was really excited to finally be at home and play in front of our home fans. We knew ahead of time that having our home opener against the defending conference champions was going to be a tall order and we would need to play our best. A lot of credit goes to City as they came out and executed at probably the highest level they have all season for the first two sets and played like the champions they are.
“We struggled a bit with a few too many unforced errors and definitely did not defend how we needed to in order to win those first two sets. To our team’s credit, however, we kept battling and while we got down two sets, we never really got down emotionally or mentally.”
Over the final three sets, City connected at a mere .168 percentage rate, while the Golden Eagles improved to .240.
“In the huddle after the second set we acknowledged that we didn’t execute well the final couple of points in that set and let that set get away due to our mental focus and discipline,” Carver said. “The ladies came out and took the next two sets by taking our defensive execution up a notch, doing a better job locating our serves and continued to just be efficient offensively. Our bench players were loud and engaged and were giving feedback to our on court players during timeouts and between sets. A total team win tonight that we will definitely savor just a bit, but know we have to come back ready to play tomorrow against Central Christian.”
City’s combination of Stefani Nell and Marijana Bjelobrk were unstoppable at times, as Nell finished with a 21-kill, 19-dig double-double. Bjelobrk notched 18 kills and hit .308 on the match. Dani Chase paced the visitors with 24 digs.
The Golden Eagles played Central Christian (Kan.) on Saturday at Bill George Arena. Results were not available at presstime.
John Brown University volleyball players celebrate after scoring a point Friday night against Oklahoma City. The Golden Eagles rallied from a 2-0 deficit to come back and beat the Stars in JBU’s first home game of the season at Bill George Arena.