Phoenix, Ariz. – Arizona Christian University (8-17, 1-8 GSAC) earned its first-ever Golden State Athletic Conference victory, Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Fultz Memorial Gymnasium on the ACU campus, with a three sets to two triumph over San Diego Christian College (4-14, 2-7 GSAC). Arizona Christian is competing in its first season in the GSAC.


San Diego Christian won set one, 25-21, but ACU came back to take set two, 25-22. SDCC trounced ACU, 25-12, in set three, but ACU returned the favor in set four, 25-13, and prevailed in the decisive fifth set, 15-11. ACU avenged its Sept. 21 loss to San Diego Christian by a 3-0 count and improved its season record to 4-1 in five-set matches.

ACU came back from a 10-4 deficit in set one and tied the score at 15-15, and trailed 21-18 before slicing the lead to 21-20, but the Hawks outscored the Firestorm, 4-1, and won the set, 25-21. In set two, ACU erased a 19-15 lead and led 20-19. The Hawks regained a 21-20 lead, but ACU tied the score at 21-21 and went ahead, 24-21, on two aces served by sophomore libero Kendall Bergsten (Glendale, Ariz./Mountain Ridge HS/North Idaho College) and an SDCC attack error. SDCC killed point 22, but freshman setter Haley Worden (Phoenix, Ariz./Greenway H.S.) followed with a kill for set point, 25-22.

After a brief 4-3 ACU lead, SDCC controlled set three, 25-12, scoring eight consecutive points to go from an 8-6 lead to a 16-6 margin. But ACU grabbed an early 7-1 lead in set four and stretched the lead to 12 points three times, including the final 25-13 set score. Set five featured six ties and ACU gained the lead six times and San Diego Christian went ahead once in the early stages. After a 6-6 tie, ACU went ahead 8-6 and 10-7 and 11-8 on a trio of kills by sophomore outside hitter MacKenzie Worden (Phoenix, Ariz./Bourgade Catholic HS/Glendale CC) and led by four points three times down the stretch, 12-8, 13-9 and the final 15-11 set score. Senior outside hitter Bethany Beckman (Glendale, Ariz./Northwest Christian School) killed set and match point.

Both sides recorded 49 kills, and ACU overcame 11 San Diego Christian total blocks. The Firestorm served eight aces and posted six total blocks, and passed well, committing just two service reception errors in 87 chances, and dug up 58 opponent attack attempts. SDCC totaled 52 digs.

MacKenzie Worden, who ranks second for ACU in kills and third in digs this season, led ACU with 16 kills, 17 digs, one solo block and successfully passed 25 of the 26 opponent services that came her way. Beckman, ACU's kills and digs leader this season, finished with 12 kills, 12 digs, two assisted blocks, one service ace, and passed all 32 of the opponent serves she faced. Beckman is ACU's career leader with 1220 kills, 1187 digs and 155 service aces in 374 sets played in four seasons.

Senior right-side hitter Kylee Kammler (San Marcos, Calif./San Marcos H.S./Palomar College) killed six balls, served two aces and assisted on one block, and senior middle blocker Joelle Hoppe (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro H.S./Phoenix College) posted five kills and four assisted blocks and continues to add to ACU's single-season assisted blocks record with 42 this season. Freshman Haley Worden (Phoenix, Ariz./Greenway H.S.) assisted 31 times and had four kills, eight digs and an assisted block. Bergsten added 13 digs, three set assists, went 9 for 9 in service receptions and served four aces, and sophomore Betsy Caulfield (Houston, Texas/Klein Forest H.S.) set six assists, served one ace and dug up seven opponent attack attempts.

Freshman outside hitter Juliana Gutknecht led San Diego Christian with 19 kills, 10 digs, one assisted block, and successfully passed 18 of the 20 ACU service attempts that came her way. Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Phillips totaled 12 kills, 10 digs, an assisted block, and was 14 for 15 in service receptions, and senior outside hitter Rachel Allen killed five balls, set 10 assists, and had two digs and four assisted blocks. Junior outside hitter Shelly Broberg added four kills, two service aces and five total blocks, one solo, and freshman libero Jelisa Navarette recorded 13 digs, two assists and successfully passed 29 of 34 ACU service attempts. Freshman setter Aleka Estrada set 11 assists and had five digs, and junior setter Cassidy Mertens contributed 21 assists and eight digs.