Once the floodgates opened, the points didn’t stop.
The Cougars kicked off their PacWest season against the Academy of Art’s Urban Knights in the Felix Event Center, where they won 3 sets to the Knights’ 1. APU was the favorite coming into the game after coming off a 4-game win streak in last week’s SoCal Freeway Challenge.
The Cougars came out guns blazing, with three early kills from sophomores Annaka Jorgenson and Kyra Palmbush. The Knights quickly retaliated with kills from Katherine Von Kraut and Isaura Santos to tie the first set up. From there, the momentum shifted away from the Cougars and in favor of the Knights.
With eight kills by Santos, the first set belonged to the Knights. Among the Cougars’ efforts came a handful of crucial errors, including a handling error by Mina Andjelkovic and a service error from Abby Hills.
Even with these errors, the Cougars tied the first set at 24 a piece thanks to a kill from Jorgenson. It was not enough, however, as an attack error by Cougar Ioanna Georgatzi lost the first set for the Cougars, giving the Knights the final point of the set to win.
Down 1-0, the Cougars returned to the court and began looking like the team that went undefeated last week. Throughout the second set, they only made two errors, a large improvement over the seven errors they made in the first set. With their ball control tightened up, they could focus on scoring, and that’s exactly what they did.
Junior Katarina Radisic nailed four kills on the other side of the court, while sophomore Kyra Palmbush contributed another three for a total of seven well-executed kills. With extra kills from Jorgenson, grad student Abby Hills and some stellar saves from Libero Bailey Henington, the Cougars made quick work of the Knights. They quickly took the second set with a score of 25-16 and tied the game 1-1.
That momentum carried into the third set, which concluded with another APU victory and a score of 25-17. The Cougars had an astounding 18 kills over the Knights’ 12. Six of APU’s kills were by Radisic, with another four contributed by Jorgenson, two from Hills and three from Georgatzi. With more kills by Palmbush and a service ace by Radisic, the Cougars’ offense demolished the Knights.
That continued to be the case in the fourth and final set of the match, as the Cougars won their third straight set 25-18. Radisic, Jorgenson, Palmbush, Andjelkovic and Hills wrapped the game up with kill after kill, sealing the deal and extending their win streak to five.
The number of names in the prior sentence is a testament to the teamwork and insane statistics the Cougars had against the Knights. Radisic put up 19 kills across the entire game, with Jorgenson not far behind with 16. Palmbush rounds out the top three scorers with ten kills to her name while also contributing four block assists. Henington played her part as Libero, hitting a game-high of 21 digs while landing a kill for herself. Sophomore Maggie Nielsen also provided an astounding 30 assists, more than anyone else on the Cougars’ roster.
Between the offense, defense and role-players, the Cougars had what it took to represent the school and defeat the Knights. Their record is now 6-3 overall, while their PacWest record is now 1-0 thanks to this win.
APU will look to extend their win streak to six games when they face Fresno Pacific at the Felix Event Center at 3:00p.m.