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ORU Drops San Jose State, 3-1, to Open 2012 Season

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 08/24/2012
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Jessica Pancratz powered ORU to victory with nine kills and seven blocks
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A rocky second set was no obstacle for the Oral Roberts University volleyball team as they knocked off San Jose State, 3-1, on Friday at the UB Invitational.

ORU took the match by scores of 26-24, 12-15, 25-16 and 25-22.

The Golden Eagles (1-0) will face Canisius at 4 pm in the second match of their season-opening doubleheader.

Defense was a key to ORU’s 20-win season in 2011, and the foundation of last year’s campaign was key to Friday morning’s victory. 2011 Summit League Defensive Player of the Year Bruna Silva led all players with 26 digs, while senior Olivia Ophus added 18 and junior Jessica Pancratz led all Golden Eagles with seven total blocks.

Offensively, Sheina Fernandes led a balanced ORU attack with 11 kills, while Pancratz, Joana Gruber and Luara Rosa added nine kills each. Junior Laura Taylor racked up 42 set assists in the win.

The Spartans (0-1) got 16 kills from Hanah Blume and outhit ORU, .145 to .096, but most of SJSU’s highlights came in their dominating second set. Blume added 17 digs to lead the Spartans in defeat.

ORU fell behind midway through the opening set, 14-10, as kills by Blume and Krista Miller sparked a 4-0 SJSU run. The Golden Eagles rallied to take a 20-19 lead on back-to-back kills by Fernandes, but SJSU earned a set point at 24-23 on a Mary Alice O’Reilly kill.

Sheera Sirola’s team buckled down, however, winning the final three points of the set to take a 26-24 victory. Kills by Taylor and Pancratz won the set for ORU, giving the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead.

The Spartans quickly regained momentum, taking a 5-0 second set lead thanks to three ORU attack errors. The lead swelled to 9-1 on a Samantha O’Connell kill, and the Golden Eagles were all but eliminated from the set. The Spartans took the frame, 25-12, to even the match.

But an Ophus service ace on the first point of the third set put ORU back in the driver’s seat. The Golden Eagles won the set’s first three points and maintained that lead throughout. After SJSU drew close, at 15-13, Gruber came up with two kills in a row, and it was smooth sailing for the rest of the set. A Pancratz kill gave ORU a 25-16 win and a 2-1 lead.

ORU won the first two points of the fourth set and looked headed to victory when a Fernandes kill stretched the advantage to 15-11. But the Spartans had one more rally in them, winning four straight points to even the set at 15 and force an ORU timeout.

The break did ORU good, as Pancratz tallied two kills in a three-point run that established an 18-15 lead. The Golden Eagles would never trail again, as Tatum Fredeen clinched the match with one final kill, giving ORU a 25-22 fourth set win.

Following ORU’s afternoon match against Canisius, the Golden Eagles will have the evening off before facing the hosts from Buffalo tomorrow at 4 pm CT.
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