Bruins drop Pool Play Opener to Oklahoma City

Pakalana Helekahi led all players with 15 kills on the night
Pakalana Helekahi led all players with 15 kills on the night

SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Pakalana Helekahi put away a match-high 15 kills but it wasn't enough as the No. 22 Bellevue University volleyball team dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 12 Oklahoma City University on Tuesday evening in the first of three pool play matches at the NAIA Volleyball National Tournament at the Tyson Events Center.

The Stars won the first two sets by scores of 25-15 and 25-18 before the Bruins bounced back to take the third set 25-19. OKCU put the match away with a 25-20 victory in the fourth set to improve to 31-3 on the year with their 23rd-straight victory. Bellevue now falls to 31-11.

Bellevue is playing at the Tournament Final Site for the first time since 2013.

OKCU had five players record at least eight kills in the match led by Marjana Bjelobrk's 12. Manon Soraru and Shenikah Clarke each added 10 while Holly Randall and Fia Faa'agi contributed nine and eight, respectively, for the Stars.

Bellevue struggled hitting in the first two sets, registering a .032 hitting percentage as they fell behind 2-0 but responded well.  Over the match's third and fourth sets, BU combined to hit at a .266 clip to finish the match at .162. Oklahoma City hit .261 as a team.

Supporting Helekahi in the attack department were Mikaylah Gillespie, Marylyn Mozena, and Shay Scanlan each of whom recorded nine kills on the night.

Maddie Squiers directed the Bruin offense with 42 kills to go along with her 12 digs as she notched her 15th double-double of the season. Defensively, Taylor Holz led Bellevue with 20 digs as the Bruins out-dug OKCU 64-60.

Bellevue resumes pool play tomorrow against Midland University at 5 p.m. before taking on the University of Mobile on Thursday at 5 p.m. The top two teams in each group advance to the single-elimination Round of 16.

Pool E Standings:

Team W-L
Midland 1-0
Oklahoma City 1-0
Bellevue 0-1
Mobile 0-1