Evangel defeats BU volleyball team in five games

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Evangel defeats BU volleyball team in five games

Story by Kyle Davis

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The stakes were high the last time the Evangel University and Baker University volleyball teams faced off, with the Crusaders sweeping the Wildcats, knocking them out of the postseason last year.

The two teams matched up again Tuesday in front of a rowdy crowd in Collins Center with slightly smaller stakes on the line, an early-undefeated conference record and first place standing in the HAAC.

Again, Evangel came away with the victory, this time winning 3-2.

“Any time we get a crowd in here like that, it fires up the players and they feed off that,” assistant coach Matt Windle said. “They need that energy and they’re fighters anyway.”

The first game belonged to the Crusaders, as they came back to take the lead for the first time at 17-16 and closed out game one 25-19.

Evangel came out of the gates strong in game two, by jumping out to an early 8-4 lead, but this time it was the Wildcats who came back.

A kill by senior Brooke Pryor put Baker in the lead 28-27, before Baker closed out the game 29-27.

After losing the third game to Evangel 25-16, Baker won game four 25-22 to extend the match to a deciding fifth game.

Sophomore Jana Boss was pleased with how the Wildcats were able to come back from several deficits against the Crusaders.

“(It) definitely made us feel better about the way we played and how we came together, and this is definitely a learning experience for our team,” Boss said.

Evangel jumped out again to an early 4-2 lead in game five, but an ace by junior Kelsey Cobb tied the game at four.

The score was tied four more times throughout the game before Evangel ended the match, winning 15-13.

“It’s been kind of an issue this year where … we’re just not closing out games,” Windle said. “All of our losses this year have been close games and we’ve led late in most games, we’ve just got to find a way to close out a game and we’re struggling to find that right now.”

Tuesday’s loss to Evangel marked the fourth consecutive loss for Baker, after the Wildcats lost the final three games of the MidAmerica Nazarene University Tournament to Bellevue University, Hastings College and Dordt College.

Baker won the first game of the tournament 3-0 against Grandview College. The Wildcats are now 11-8 on the season and 2-1 in the HAAC.

“We’ve lost to a lot of good teams. Last weekend we lost to three really good teams, and I think we’re just learning from it every time,” junior Sydney Pemberton said.

The Wildcats will face another conference opponent in Culver-Stockton College at 7 p.m. Friday in Collins Center.

After the losses to Evangel in the HAAC playoffs last year and Tuesday, Boss now wants a chance to get revenge against Evangel this postseason “more than ever.”