A three set sweep from the Cougars on both Thursday and Saturday continued their impressive win streak
APU vs. Hawai’i Hilo
Two weeks ago, the Cougars suffered only their fourth loss of the season to the Hawai’i Hilo Vulcans. It was a hard fought five set battle that saw Azusa Pacific fall just short of obtaining their 11th conference victory. However, on Thursday night, the Cougars earned their revenge.
Nevertheless, momentum shifts were an issue for the Cougars throughout Thursday’s game. Despite moments of excellence that seemed to prove APU’s superiority, there were also several moments when the Vulcans made a push that the home side was unable to answer efficiently. During both the first and second set the narrative of the Cougars taking an early lead and having to hold on for the win was on full display.
APU won a tight first set 25-21. The second set began with seven quick points for APU, and they led by as much as eight at 17-9. With only eight points left to score before winning a second set, UHH made an aggressive statement. In the final 13 sequences of play, the Vulcans were able to score nine points. In fact, APU’s lead was eventually brought down to a 24-22 contest. Yet senior captain Julianne Miller finished the Vulcans off with her first kill of the game.
The third set, which was ultimately the final set of the contest, continued to be a battle of momentum shifts with the Cougars once again taking an early lead but holding on to their lead by the final whistle. A 16-4 favor for APU was brought to a tight 22-21 score by the end of the match, but the Cougars eventually shut the door with a kill from Sara Wagenveld, ending the game for APU with a three set sweep.
Senior outside hitter Aliyah Morrison continued her recent stretch of impressive outings, earning 14 kills and giving her a total of 38 kills over the span of her last three matches. Miller continued to increase her blocking numbers with five on the night, and she continues her streak of 18 straight games with at least one block. Libero Bailey Henington continued to shine for the Cougars defensively, acquiring 20 digs by the end of the three sets.
APU vs. Hawai’i Pacific
The Cougars didn’t miss a beat on Saturday as they conquered the Hawai’i Pacific Sharks by a 3-0 margin for the second time this season. The first set very tight, with the Cougars only escaping with a two-point edge. The Sharks took a 12-11 lead early in the set and held their lead late, leaving APU in danger of losing the contest, but APU responded with their best play near the end and took the set 25-23.
The second set proved to be APU’s best, as they won 25-16 and set themselves up for the three set sweep. The Cougars opened with four straight points in the third set and never looked back as they went on to win by a score of 25-21, earning their second sweep in three days. Miller led the team in kills on Saturday with 12, and sophomore Katrina Radisic impressed with a 10 kill performance. Along with this, Hennington once again stood out with 21 digs by the end of the game, increasing her PacWest leading season total of 572 digs.
The 24-4 Cougars are now a perfect 9-0 at home this season, and they are leading the PacWest Conference with their 18-2 conference record, clinching a share of the PacWest Championship. APU has the potential to win a second straight conference title if UHH loses one of their final regular season games or if the Cougars escape with one more victory.
APU only has two games remaining until the regular season comes to an end, and both will be home contests. Their next match will be against the Concordia Eagles on Wednesday at 6 p.m.