Golden Ea­gles storm back to beat City

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - SPORTS - From JBU Sports In­for­ma­tion

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.

Photo courtesy of JBU Sports In­for­ma­tion

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.

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