PARKVILLE, Mo. - Baker University looked like anything but a short-handed team Thursday night at Breckon Sports Center, becoming the first team in 13 months to take a set from fifth-ranked Park University on its home floor, but the Pirates had .500 hitting and 11 kills from Aneisha Ford and a match-high 18 kills from Nada Meawad, turning away the upset-minded Wildcats in four sets - 25-19, 16-25, 25-17, 25-14.
Baker (11-14) was without either one of its mainstays at the setting position, pushing a pair of reserve setters - Brittney Diehm and Kyler Bruck - in to action, combining for 35 assists while getting the Wildcats to .230 hitting in the match. The setting duo also helped Ashley Sparks to a Baker-best 16 kills.
"Baker did a lot of good things in the match tonight and played like a team that expected to win," said Park coach Mike Talamantes. "That second set definitely woke our team up. We had to make some changes to our personnel, and the players we brought off the bench gave us a boost."
Ford's 11 kills were matched by Maren Mair's 11 kills, and the junior middle added four of Park's six blocks on the night. Danna Gomes posted 42 assists, and libero Celina Monteiro finished the night with 26 digs.
Park (17-2) erased an early Baker lead in the first set, down 9-6 before a 4-0 run made it 10-9, and after Baker scored to stop the run, Park added three more points to stretch the lead to three, 13-10. The Pirates needed another pair of 3-0 runs late to win the set, including a set-ending three-point spurt that started with a kill by Meawad, followed by an ace from Amanda Santos, and the set went to the Pirates when Ford and Katherine Dudra blocked Olivia Brees to win 25-17.
Baker responded by scoring eight of the first 10 points in the second, and the Wildcats finished the set on a 6-0 run, claiming a 25-16 win.
Park's loss in the second was enough to light a fire under the Pirates in the third, beginning with seven of the first nine points, a lead that was eventually 18-10 when Corina Rodriguez found Noura Meawad for a kill to build an eight-point lead. The kill was part of a long run for the Pirates, who eventually led 22-11 on a Baker error, and although the Wildcats did score five-straight points to get within six, Park finished with the final two, as Nada Meawad registered a kill before a Baker error to hand the set to the Pirates, 25-17. Park claimed the match with a dominant fourth set, hitting a match-best .375 with a long run near the end of the match, taking an 17-12 lead and building a 23-12 advantage with six-straight points.
"I'm happy with the way we played in the last two sets, but we just can't come out flat this weekend on the road in our conference," Talamantes said. "We have to clean that up a lot, and we will tomorrow night in St. Louis."
Thursday's win represented the first match in a string of three, this week, as Park goes on the road to St. Louis College of Pharmacy (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Lindenwood-Belleville (Saturday, 4 p.m.) in a pair of American Midwest Conference matches that will air on the Pirate Sports Network at www.parkathletics.tv.