The APU volleyball team seems to have found their identity after countering two straight losses with two straight wins
The APU volleyball team got a much-needed win this Saturday by beating Fresno Pacific 3-1 in the Felix Event Center. After losing three of their last four games, including being swept by PacWest rivals California Baptist and Biola, the Cougars have strung together two straight wins.
This win was big for the Cougars with postseason implications on the line. On Wednesday, the first of four regional rankings will be released. The top eight teams in the west region (comprised of the CCAA, GNCA and PacWest) qualify for the NCAA postseason, and the Cougars hope to be a part of it.
“I thought we played well. Good defense and good offense today, we just didn’t finish all the way into set three,” head coach Chris Keife said.
The Cougars came out dominate against Fresno Pacific, taking the first set 25-19. Sophomore middle blocker Julianne Miller, came out strong scoring kills on two of the first three matches. Miller would go on to have a game high 16 kills on the night.
“She [Miller] played great. Julianne was up there high, and swinging around the block,” junior setter Danika Young said.
In the second set, the Cougars continued to steamroll, not allowing the Sunbirds to take the lead once and winning 25-18. Junior outside hitter Madison Ogas and sophomore middle blocker Sara Wagenveld, put together a solid second set, scoring two kills each.
Wagenveld finished the night with nine kills, one assist, and three blocks.
“We like to run our offense heavy through the middle, so we knew we had to be ready to go as middle hitters, put velocity on our hits and be aggressive,” Wagenveld said.
Still, in the third set, Fresno Pacific strung together some momentum, and refused to be swept. Tied 13-13 in the third set, Fresno Pacific would go on to win 8 of the next 10 matches, and eventually took the set 25-22.
“We just had to be a little more intentional out there, and execute better,” Keife said.
Fresno Pacific senior outside hitter Gabriela Macedo finished with a team-high 12 kills and 10 digs. However, the Sunbirds committed 26 errors on the attack, compared to only 14 errors by the Cougars.
In the fourth set, APU proved to be too much for Fresno Pacific. The Cougars would jump out to a commanding 19-9 lead, and would go on to win the set and game 25-14. Junior outside hitter Natalie Klapp took control in the fourth set, and finished with 13 kills and 15 digs for the double-double.
Klapp, Young, sophomore libero Bailey Henington and junior setter Kaylen Higa all finished with double digit digs.
“I think in sets one, two and three we played a real clean game,” Young said. “We just have to clean up a few things, and we’ll be better.”
Defensively the Cougars were spectacular, garnering a total of 88 digs and seven team blocks.
The Cougars will have their hands full next week when undefeated Cal Baptist pays them a visit on Saturday. APU will look to get revenge after being swept by the Lancers two weeks ago.
“We’re pumped, honestly,” Young said. “We’ve been waiting to get a rematch against [Cal Baptist]. This [Felix Event Center] is always a great environment to play in, so we’re excited.”
With the win over Fresno Pacific, the Cougars are now 17-4 overall and 10-3 in PacWest conference play.
“We just have to focus in on us and be the team that I know that we can be… Going forward we have to keep that mentality in practice this week,” Keife said.
The Cougars next game will be against Dominican on Friday in the Felix Event Center at 6 p.m.