SURPRISE, AZ – Hope International took a quick intermission from its GSAC slate on Wednesday, Sept. 20 with a match against the Ottawa (AZ) Spirit. HIU made a test run of what could be a two-team conference trip beginning in 2018 with a match against the Spirit prior to playing current GSAC opponent Arizona Christian on Thursday, Sept. 21, and won the first-ever meeting in straight sets.
HIU started out with a strong opening performance and forced a timeout from their hosts with an 18-11 lead before trading rallies through the tail end of the opening stanza. The Royals would finish the first set ever played between the sides with a 25-16 win, and would repeat the feat in the second set as well.
The second stanza would end the same as the first with a few minor differences – the Royals jumped out to an initial lead of 17-9 and fought back against a late rally from the Spirit players to take the second set with the same 25-16 final as the opening frame.
In the third set Coach Jessica Walker opened up the rotation and pulled her starters to give the reserves extra game experience and Ottawa had more success after the change in rotation, but not to the point of stealing a set on their own floor. HIU battled valiantly with their backups to keep a lead and drew a timeout once again from their hosts with a 19-15 lead before finishing the match with a 25-18 win and completed the sweep in the process.
"It's always nice to get a win on the road!" Coach Walker exclaimed after the victory in Arizona. "I'm very happy with how the team preformed as a whole tonight – everyone was ready to play and contributed to today's win."
Katie Landazuri (SR/Temecula, CA) led all players on the evening with 10 kills and extended her streak of double-digit kills in a match to 11 in the 2017 season – to date, Landazuri has not failed to register 10 or more kills in a match that she has played in during the current season.
Defensively, Shea Beeman (SR/Hurst, TX) was the star of the show for HIU with 21 digs on the night, vaulting herself into a solo share of third place on the career digs list for the Royals with 1269 to her credit and counting in her four seasons at HIU. Beeman now sits 220 digs behind Jocelyn Moya for second and can take over with 221 – Beeman has the bulk of HIU's GSAC slate and 13 matches remaining overall in the regular season, as well as the potential of a GSAC Tournament or NAIA Tournament berth that could help in the chase for 221.
"I'm extremely proud of Shea for taking over the number three spot," Coach Walker said of Beeman's milestone performance. "She has really put in the time in the offseason to improve her game and it's showing in her play. She's an important part of the team, not just because she's the libero – she brings a spark and an energy on court, and we're lucky to have her."
The Royals will have a quick turnaround as they prepare for the ACU Firestorm tomorrow, Sept. 21, at the ACU gym at 5:00 pm in Phoenix. HIU enters that match with three straight wins and a pair of conference victories to its credit as it looks to pick up win number 10 of the 2017 season. Links for live coverage will be available on hiuroyals.com.
Landazuri now needs 54 kills to take over as the all-time career lead after boosting her total to 1103 … Beeman is now 17 digs better than the previous third-highest mark and will need to average 17 digs per match to claim second place … Jessica Zieg (SR/Carlsbad, CA) is quickly climbing the all-time assists list for HIU, needing 50 to take over sixth and surpass the current mark of 1176 … Zieg has the potential to climb as high as third in the final 13 matches and could take over second place with a deep postseason run … The current mark to beat for second all-time at HIU in assists stands at 1635.