PHOENIX, AZ – Hope International picked up its fourth win in a row on Thursday, Sept. 21 after a stop at GSAC foe Arizona Christian. The Royals avenged their loss to ACU in the most recent meeting from the 2016 season and improved their GSAC record to 3-1 with the four-set win.
Three Royals playing at the "pins" – outside and opposite hitters – tallied 12 or more kills apiece in the win and helped the Royals overcome their hosts while avoiding a fifth frame that has been unkind to HIU this season.
The Royals trailed 7-1 early in the first set but pushed back and were able to tie the set at 10-10 with a kill from Kierra Pearson. The two sides would trade rallies the rest of the way to the finish line in set one and an extremely competitive first set went to HIU, 25-23, after a kill by Jessica Zieg clinched if for the Royals.
The second set went the to the host team after HIU let the Firestorm pull away midway through the second set. After tying the set again at 10-10 the Royals let ACU rip off a 5-0 run and could not close the gap down the stretch, falling 19-25.
The Royals played another competitive set in the third, once again playing to a 10-10 tie and then watching as their hosts pulled away again. However, this time the Royals rallied back and were able to tie the match again at 20-20 before finishing off the third stanza with a 25-23 win.
The Royals used their momentum to take an early lead in the fourth and that was enough to power them to a double-digit win in the fourth frame. HIU never trailed in the final frame and led by 10 on four separate occasions, including when the set concluded with a 25-15 victory for HIU to end the match.
Mikayla Derieg, Katie Landazuri, and K. Pearson were the three Royals that tallied 12 or more kills on the night to lead HIU to their third conference win of the year. Maddy Barrett added eight from the middle and Zieg produced six of her own while also dishing out 43 assists in the win. Shea Beeman added a match-high 27 digs to her career total to lead the back line.
After the match Coach Jessica Walker praised her back line for their work, saying "I thought our 'smalls' played big tonight – all our defensive specialists played very well and carried us tonight." Coach Walker also made special mention of her senior opposite, saying "I thought Mikayla really stepped up her game and played very well – we're very happy to be coming back home with two wins."
HIU improves to 3-1 in the GSAC and picked up its 10th win of the season in the process, while ACU falls to 9-6 overall and is 1-3 in GSAC to date. The Royals will travel to San Diego for a conference tilt against the SDC Hawks on Saturday while ACU hosts Vanguard on Saturday.