Biola Senior Stevens Reaches 2,000 Career Digs
AZUSA, Calif. - Biola (Calif.) senior libero Katie Stevens recorded a match-high 26 digs as she eclipsed the 2,000-dig plateau for her career, but it was not enough as No. 5 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) pulled out a 25-19, 21-25, 21-25, 25-18, 15-10 victory in a Golden State Athletic Conference match on Wednesday night at the Felix Events Center.
The Eagles, ranked No. 10 in the final Tachikara-NAIA Coaches' Top 25 Volleyball Poll, fall to 21-8 overall and see their five-match winning-streak come to an end. Biola is now 12-7 in conference play. The Cougars improve to 23-8 on the season and to 14-5 in the GSAC. The match was a make-up of one originally scheduled for October 27, but postponed due to a power outage.
Stevens, who has averaged 24 digs over the course of her last five matches, needed just four digs to reach the 2,000-dig mark. Those digs came early on as she had six in the first set alone. Her 26 total digs were the second-most she has recorded this season behind her career-high 35 in the first match of the year. She set Biola's school career record in the final match of last season and has nearly 500 more career digs than any other Biola player.
Freshman outside hitter Nicolette Mather led the Eagles with 14 kills and added five blocks in the match. Junior Tavea Hampton contributed 10 kills and nine blocks.
The Cougars came out fired up, breaking a 5-5 time in the first set with a five-point run and extended the lead to 18-10. Biola closed the gap a bit to 21-17, but Azusa Pacific held off the late charge to take the set 25-18.
The Eagles came right back with a strong set of their own, jumping out to a quick 9-4 lead to start off the second. The Cougars closed to within one point at 12-11 and the teams continued to trade points for a bit through the middle portion of the set. However, Biola pulled away with a five-point run to take a 20-14 lead thanks in large part to Hampton, who had a pair of kills and a block. The Eagles managed to close out the set with kill by Hampton to win 25-21.
The Cougars had control of the third set early, holding a 13-11 lead guided by Jill Baker, who collected a pair of blocks and a kill. But the Eagles fought back with a 7-1 run capped off by five-straight kills to go up 18-14 overall. The two teams exchanged points the rest of the way as Biola went up 2-1 with a 25-21 victory in game three.
Azusa Pacific was not quite ready for the night to end. The Cougars came out gunning to start off the fourth set, jumping out to a 13-5 lead early. Biola had come back from 18-12 and 19-13 fourth-set deficits to win in two matches over the last two weeks. However, it was not to be this time as the Cougars held off the late rally to win 25-18 and force a fifth set.
The Eagles got the early advantage in the fifth set, as back-to-back blocks put them up 8-6 as the teams changed sides. Azusa Pacific came back to tie the score at 9-9, then broke a 10-10 tie by scoring the final five points of the set to win 15-10.
Baker led the Cougars with 23 kills and added 18 digs and seven blocks. She had eight kills in the final set alone including scoring the last four points on kills. Whitney Radcliffe added 18 kills for APU while Ariel Beetstra added 10 kills and 10 blocks.
The match was surprisingly even with the two teams each recording 77 digs and Biola holding a slight 15-14 edge in blocks. The big difference came in the kill column where APU held a commanding 72-54 edge and posted a .223 hitting percentage compared to Biola's .170.
Biola closes out the regular season on Saturday, hosting No. 15 Point Loma Nazarene University (Calif.) at 7 p.m. at Chase Gymnasium. The Eagles will honor three seniors playing in their final home match in a special ceremony prior to the start of the match.
Article courtesy of the NAIA