OBU volleyball team sweeps East Central in GAC Tourney opening round

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The fifth-ranked Oklahoma Baptist volleyball team began the pursuit for a second straight Great American Conference Tournament title as the Bison swept East Central in the quarterfinals on Thursday evening inside the Noble Complex.

With the win, the Bison will head to Searcy, Ark. for the remainder of the tournament as they will take on Arkansas Tech on Saturday at 6 p.m.

The Bison put together another incredible night in their attack, finishing with 45 kills to only 12 errors while hitting .295. OBU also held ECU to 32 kills to 24 errors and a .061 hitting percentage.

OBU had eight blocks on the night to go with 39 assists and 56 digs.

East Central came out inspired and ready to play, jumping out to a 3-0 lead early in the first set before a pair of kills from Taneyah Brown and a rare kill from Diana Carranza evened the match at three.

The two squads traded points back-and-forth throughout the early part of the first set before the Bison rattled off eight straight points behind kills from Taryn Weber and Avery Hellmuth as well as a pair of service aces from Brown to lead 20-12.

The Bison hit a whopping .361 in the first set including 16 kills to take a 25-17 first set victory.

East Central didn't go down easily in set two, running out to a 4-1 lead before four straight points from OBU gave the Bison a 5-4 advantage. OBU took advantage of 11 ECU errors in the second set and held a three-point lead most of the way.

Leading 20-17, the Bison rolled to a 2-0 lead behind five straight points including a pair of kills from Malia Leatherland, blocks from Kaylee Buell and Hellmuth, and an ace to close the set from Kaelyn Ina.

The Bison put the match away in the third set, holding East Central to -.026 and pushing their lead to as many as 11 at 20-9. The Bison cleared the bench and closed out the match, 25-15, to advance into the semifinals.

Leatherland led the attack with 13 kills on .353 hitting to go with 11 digs while Brown picked up eight kills on .333 hitting to go with three service aces and two block assists. Hellmuth added six kills on .375 hitting to go with six block assists. Buell had 35 assists and four block assists on the night.

Carranza led the defense with 13 digs while Buell picked up nine. Audrey Poupard added two block assists.

Thalianette Garcia had 12 kills while Sydney Dungen had 22 assists to lead the Tigers. Alejandra Delgado had 17 digs.