TMC Takes Game One From No. 8 APU Only To Fall In Four
The Lady Mustangs completed a four-game stretch of facing opponents ranked in the top 10 of NAIA National rankings by hosting the No. 8 Cougars of Azusa Pacific. Despite taking the first game of the match and some heroics in game number four, Master's fell to APU 3-1 (25-22, 19-25, 18-25, 27-29.)
In game one, Coach Bobby Blanken's team jumped out to an early 4-2 lead on a kill by Victoria Callihan. The Lady Mustangs led by as much as four when Rachel Taylor and Callihan blocked an attack by Christy Cain and took an 11-7 lead. Azusa battled back, even leading at one point 12-11 but the first set belonged to TMC. APU took a timeout trailing 20-18 but it was Master's that responded. After a setting error, kills by Rachel Taylor and Samantha Dougherty made the score 24-20. The Cougars tried to respond but Jenna Kapuscinski finished the visitors.
Azusa Pacific showed why they are the nation's No. 8 team in the second set. APU used a service ace, a bad set by TMC, and a couple of Master's attack errors to put themselves in control. APU maintained a comfortable four to six point cushion, eventually finishing the set 25-19.
Master's made game three more competitive. Another Callihan kill put TMC down by only two at 17-15 and the deficit was the same when an Azusa service error put the game at 18-16 APU. Feeling the possibility of going up two to one in the set, it was self-inflicted errors that cost Master's an opportunity to win game three. TMC suffered a bad set and three attack errors allowing the Cougars to go on a 7-2 run to end the game.
Despite falling in game four, Master's showed its heart yet again and demonstrated why it is one of the upcoming teams in the GSAC. After tying the final game at 11 on yet another Dougherty kill, TMC went on a 12-8 run that made it look as if the fans were in store for yet another five-game set. Kills by Dougherty and Callihan stretched the Lady Mustangs lead to 23-19 when attack errors again plagued the hosts, leading to the squads knotting up the match at 23. APU then had a chance to finish the match but a Dougherty block kept Master's alive. Three more times in the game, APU would get a one-point lead, only to have the feisty Lady Mustangs tie it up, the final tie coming at 27-27 on a Tami Brown kill. The match ended however when TMC would have two more attack errors.
Brown may have been the most effective of the Mustang attackers with her seven kills coming on a .583 attack average. Dougherty and Callihan added 18 and 10 kills respectively, with Callihan's coming on a .280 average.
The GSAC schedule does not ease up from here. While there are not any top ten teams looming, Tuesday night's opponent, Vanguard, happens to be the No. 22 team in the country. That match is in Costa Mesa at 7:00 pm.