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Volleyball - Thu, Aug. 17, 2017 - posted by Seth Preuss
Newcomer Camryn Rowell produced 12 kills against Montana Tech
Newcomer Camryn Rowell produced 12 kills against Montana Tech

FULLERTON, CA – Hope International wrapped up its first Summer Slam with a pair of wins over two teams ranked in the Top 15 of the Preseason NAIA Coaches' Poll. Hope International opened the second day of its Summer Slam with a win over No. 11 Eastern Oregon and finished its run at the round-robin-style tournament with a victory over No. 14 Montana Tech.

In the Royals' first match of the day against EOU at 10:00 am HIU got off to a strong start with a pair of wins in the opening sets. It took extra rallies to clinch set two, but a kill from Mikayla Derieg and a service ace by Katie Landazuri capped the set at 26-24.

EOU gained momentum from its narrow defeat in set two and doubled down to take set three with a 25-18 tally, but the Royals rebounded in set four and were able to finish the match with a 25-23 win after a kill by Derieg. EOU was able to take advantage of its size at the net with 13.5 blocks as a team, but the Royals found ways around the Mountaineers' block often enough to win the match in four.

Landazuri led with 14 kills and also posted nine digs and an ace in the win to lead all players, while Breanna Kirklen and Derieg were right behind with 10 and 11 kills, respectively. Jessica Zeig dealt out 47 assists to quarterback the offense for HIU and Shea Beeman led the back line with 23 digs from her libero spot.

Fresh off its first ranked win of 2017, HIU needed only three sets to take down MTT. The Diggers put up a good fight and played team volleyball in sets one and two before fading in set three, as the Royals won 25-21, 25-21, 25-13 to complete the sweep. The Royals' roster proved that it has the firepower to compete with almost any team in the NAIA when playing a focused match, as MTT spent much of last season in the NAIA Top 25 and finished ranked No. 15 in 2016.

The Royals led by a considerable margin in the final set, spending much the last frame ahead by double digits before winning by nearly double the Orediggers' tally. Newcomer Camryn Rowell had a breakout match with her first double-digit performance at the collegiate level, tallying 12 kills on 23 swings (12-2-13, .435) and adding three digs to her offensive output.

Landazuri again led all players with 13 kills and another service ace in addition to seven digs. Beeman led the Royals with 12 digs on the back line and Zieg dished out 32 assists while serving up three aces. Anna Stevenson had a noteworthy afternoon at the service line with a new career-best five aces against MTT.

When asked for her thoughts after the tournament, Coach Jessica Walker replied, "What a great week for HIU volleyball! The way the team bounced back on Thursday after a rough loss shows their toughness and resiliency."

Coach Walker continued by praising her senior class, saying "I'm very proud of the seniors for leading the way and getting everyone in the right mind set and back on track. Not only are the seniors getting it done, the freshmen are showing that they are ready to contribute in a big way and are proving to be fearless competitors. To come out on Thursday and get wins over very tough opponents shows the team that their hard work is paying off. We are ready to get back to work in the gym... We need to keep improving and battling every day."

The Royals are now 3-1 to start their year and own a pair of wins over top NAIA outfits in the first week, making for one of their best starts in program history. HIU hosts a single match against Life Pacific on Tuesday, Aug. 22 before traveling to face St. Katherine College and No. 16 Cornerstone (MI) at La Sierra in their tournament on Aug. 24 & 25 in Riverside, CA. Links to live coverage for all three matches are available on our website at hiuroyals.com.

W - Volleyball
Overall GSAC Streak
10-4 (.714) 3-1 (.750) Won 4