Volleyball loses four-set gut wrencher at APU

The Eagles dropped a nailbiter against rival Azusa Pacific on the road.


Abram Hammer / THE CHIMES

APU Volleyball successfully blocks an attack from senior opposite hitter Karly Dantuma [left] in this file photo from Oct. 3.

Joel Ashor and Austin Green

Biola volleyball rode a 10-game win streak into Azusa Pacific University’s campus Tuesday looking to sweep the season series against their archrivals. With first place in the PacWest conference at stake, the Cougars avenged their five-set collapse in Chase Gymnasium three weeks ago, edging the Eagles in four hard-fought sets to remain undefeated in home conference play in 2018.


The Eagles started slow in an ugly first set, as many errors doomed them throughout. The Cougars took a 15-10 lead midway on several hitting and passing errors from Biola, and the deficit was too much to overcome as APU cruised to a 25-17 set win.

APU jumped out to a 17-9 lead in set two, as the Eagles’ blocking struggled against a vicious Cougars attack. This time, however, Biola had an answer. Despite having used both timeouts early in the set, the Eagles stormed back to take a 25-24 lead on a kill from redshirt sophomore outside hitter Christina DenBoer. However, a Cougars kill tied the score and set up a back-and-forth extra points period.

The Eagles had another set point at 26-25, but senior opposite hitter Karly Dantuma’s kill attempt sailed out of bounds for an attack error. That would prove the closest Biola would come to a set win, as APU eventually edged out the Eagles 29-27 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.

Much like their last match against the Cougars, Biola found themselves fighting to survive, down two sets to nothing. They answered the call with a more efficient third set, taking an early 10-6 lead on a kill from senior setter Brinley Beresford. They never trailed from there, stretching the lead to 19-13 on a smash from DenBoer, and eventually forced a fourth set with a 25-16 win.


After a back and forth opening to set four, APU went on a six-point run led by star middle blocker Julianne Miller to take a 14-8 lead. The Eagles still had some fight left, however, responding with a 7-2 run highlighted by three DenBoer kills to tie the score at 18. Despite some late offense from Dantuma and senior middle blocker Sierra Bauder to keep the score even at 24, two quick kills from APU’s Katarina Radisic put the final nail in the coffin for a brutal Eagles loss.

DenBoer led the offense with 17 kills, followed by Bauder with 12. DenBoer, Dantuma and redshirt junior outside hitter Sabrina Winslow struggled with sloppy attacking all night, as none of the Eagles’ three main hitters recorded a hitting percentage above .190. Sophomore setter Vanessa Garcia tallied 23 assists while Beresford recorded 16. Sophomore libero Sami Hover yet again anchored the defense, flying all over the court to pick up 28 digs.

The Eagles (18-6, 14-3 PacWest) fall to second place in the PacWest volleyball standings. They will look to bounce back in a crucial home match against third-place Point Loma Nazarene University on Friday at 6 p.m.

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