Rivals clash in PacWest women’s volleyball conference

[Jacob Gonzalez | Athletics]

A crowd of 1,054 showed up to watch the women’s volleyball team at California Baptist University take on school and PacWest conference rival, Azusa Pacific University. The home crowd and rivalry combined fueled the momentum CBU needed for the 3-2 victory in a five-set battle (25-17, 25-21, 25-21, 25-17,15-11).

It was a battle of momentum with APU coming out strong in the first set, forcing several Lancer timeouts and grabbing the 25-17 win. Branden Higa, head coach, said APU came ready to compete.

“It’s a great rivalry, every match is special and every match is tough,” Higa said. “(APU) is going to be up for the match, especially in a year like this where we’re sitting atop the conference.”

CBU exploded onto the court in the second set, capitalizing off of several APU errors. By the third set, the momentum shifted as APU adapted to the Lancer offense, pulling away with the win in the third. With one of the biggest crowds in CBU history, the team was determined to grab the win at home.

“(The crowd) was vocal, they were into it,” Higa said. “They were a huge part of the win. They really pushed it over the top for us. Our team wanted to win for the fans.”

Forcing the match to five sets, the Lancers came out on top with a near perfect fifth set, despite the early lead by the Cougars in the fifth.

Jenna Perry, senior liberal studies major and outside hitter, said the team had the edge over APU in front of the tremendous home crowd, despite the shifts of momentum in each set.

“They want to get in our heads, want us to mess up and lose momentum,” Perry said. “If we’re able to keep that momentum and continue to hit hard and put the pressure on them, we’re able to get the next few points.”

The key shift in momentum came in the fifth set, with CBU hitting a .438 and walking away with seven kills on the set.

While plenty of effort was made by several individuals, Higa called the win a team effort.

“It was a nice performance down the stretch,” Higa said. “We battled hard which is something I’m really proud of. There was never a sense of giving up or they were done fighting. We cleaned it up a ton and came away with the W.”

The Lancers sit at the No. 2 spot in the PacWest and hold a 9-1 conference record.

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