Entering the day alone atop the Western Athletic Conference standings, California Baptist University was determined to keep it that way going into its first-ever match against Chicago State Thursday night.
Offensive efficiency and a strong final two sets propelled the Lancers to a four-set win over the Cougars (25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 25-14) in the Jacoby Dickens Center. CBU improves to 16-5, 7-2 in the WAC, while Chicago State drops to 8-15, 2-6 this season.
"We have been working on our consistency and maintaining our competitiveness all the way through," Coach Branden Higa
said. "We asked them to make a change after set two and they did. They were really able to find it in set three, and really the test after that -- when you're up 2-1 -- is can you close a team out. We came out in set four and really nailed it. There wasn't a drop in our level, and we finished really strong."
The Lancers return to the Van Dyne Gym on Saturday to host Seattle U at 1 p.m. It begins a five-match homestand, and the final five regular-season home matches, for CBU. The string of home matches will continue with a match against UC Riverside Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the CBU Events Center. It will be the first countable contest between the Lancers and Highlanders since 1997.
CBU was much more efficient than the Cougars on Thursday, with a .234 hitting percentage on offense, while holding Chicago State to a .142 clip. Natalie Zimmerer
and Tesa Oaks
both had double-doubles in the win. Zimmerer finished with 40 assists, 12 digs, two aces and two kills, while Oaks posted a team-high 19 kills on a .311 percentage and 13 digs.
was sharp at the net, with 13 kills on a .545 percentage and four blocks. Megan Sester
(nine kills), Summer Avery
and Yagoda Jedrzejczak
all had at least six kills and three blocks, with Avery adding 12 digs to her stat line. Nicole Abreu
posted a team-high 16 digs in the win.
"Our passing was good for three sets and we were able to find our middles a lot," Higa said of the keys to victory. "Sydney and Yagoda both had really great nights, and we were really able to get them involved in the offense. When you see our middles involved and getting a lot of balls, our pins have better nights. Sydney was so good offensively it made it easier for Tesa to hit over .300."
The Lancers got better as the match went on Thursday. They hit .341 (17-3-41) and posted a side-out percentage of 80 (17-21) in the 25-20 win in set three. CBU was even better siding out in set four, doing so on 92 percent of their opportunities (12-13) en route to an impressive 25-14 win.