IRVINE, Calif. --- Sophomore middle blocker Amy Weststeyn recorded a career-high 21 kills and posted a .625 attack percentage to lead No. 5 Biola to a 20-25, 25-17, 25-13, 25-23 upset win over No. 3 Lee University (Tenn.) on the second day of the 2012 Concordia University Labor Day Festival in Irvine on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles improve 10-1 on the season with their ninth-straight victory and their third against an NAIA Top 10 team in the last two weeks. The Lady Flames fall to 5-3 on the season, going 2-2 in the Labor Day tournament.
Weststeyn had a career match, posting 21 kills with just one error in 32 attacks for a .625 attack percentage, adding two blocks, three digs and an assist. Christine Douglas contributed 15 kills and three blocks including one solo.
Biola got off to a rocky start as Lee opened the first on fire. The Lady Flames broke a 4-4 tie with a long 11-5 run to take a commanding 15-9 lead as Biola called a timeout. Moments later the Eagles trailed by eight at 21-13 before mounting a bit of a rally, using a 6-2 run to pull back to within four. But they could get no closer as Lee held on to take the first set 25-20.
Biola woke up in the second as a different team. After posting one of its worst attack percentages of the season in the first set, the Eagles recorded one of their best, hitting .421 with just three attack errors. Biola opened the set with a strong showing, jumping out to a 13-7 lead, recording 11 kills in its first 17 swings. After maintaining its six-point lead, the Eagles pulled away late, scoring six of the final eight points to tie the set with a 25-17 win. Weststeyn had a monster second set, recording eight of her kills in 11 swings while adding a block.
The third set was possibly one of Biola's best in recent memory. The Eagles seemed to do little wrong, hitting .480 and not allowing Lee to score consecutive points en route to a dominating 25-13 win. The set started out close with Biola unable to take a lead larger than three in the early going. Leading 9-6, Biola slowly stretched the lead to six by scoring two points for every one by the Lady Flames. The Eagles then erupted late, closing out the match on a 7-2 run, highlighted by a monster kill by Weststeyn.
The fourth set started going back and forth with Lee breaking a 10-10 tie with a 6-2 run capped by a long, exciting rally which eventually went to the Lady Flames. After a Biola timeout, Lee would extend the lead to five with an ace, but the Eagles got the ball back on a service error, trailing 17-13.
Biola then mounted an incredible comeback, dominating the final half of the set to take the match. The Eagles went on an 8-3 run with another long, exciting rally going the way of the Eagles with freshman Joclyn Kirton slamming a ball cross court for the win. That tied the set at 21-21 and forced a Lee timeout.
The Lady Flames broke the tie with a point off a Biola service error, but the Eagles tied the score on Weststeyn's 21st kill and a service ace by junior libero Emily Weingartner. Lee would tie the game on another Eagle miscue, but another big kill by Kirton followed by an ace by sophomore Jaci Schork gave the match to Biola, 25-23.
"It feels really good to play a great team and pull out a win, especially after losing the first set," said Weststeyn. "The first set we were just too jumbled and hectic. We knew what we needed to do, but just couldn't do it. In the second, we really came together and played under control. Once we did that, we all pulled together in one direction and played so much better."
The match was a furious one with long rallies and great defense by both teams. A total of 288 attack attempts were taken by the two teams with both hitting well overall. The Eagles posted a .336 attack percentage with Lee hitting .255.
Junior middle blocker Chelsee Arnitz had 11 kills and hit .450 for the Eagles, adding two blocks and a service ace. She had nine kills in her final 14 swings without an error over the final three sets of the match.
Junior setter Gracee Gallarda had 47 assists and 14 digs for her first double-double of the season. The Eagles also had nine aces including three from Charley Parker, who added 10 digs and two assists.
Paula Martins and Marija Zelenovic each had 14 kills to pace the Lady Flames with Irene Ojukwu adding 11. Martins hit .520 in the match, failing to commit an attack error until the final set of the match.
"Our offense did well because we passed so well," said Head Coach Aaron Seltzer. "Lee is an outstanding team. They serve strong and are a great blocking team. This was a big win for us, but it's a long season and there is still a long way to go."