The Volleyball team prepares their defense against Mercer last Saturday
By Daniel Johnson, Staff Writer
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, the Spartan Volleyball team hosted the annual Southern Conference Volleyball Tournament this weekend. Following a successful regular season, the Spartans finished with the third seed going into the tournament. The team began their SoCon tournament Saturday evening against the Mercer Bears.
Game 1: Mercer vs. UNCG
During the season, the Spartans had handled the Bears of Mercer, winning both regular season match-ups in four and straight sets. As the game began, it looked as if it would be the same song sung. The Spartans jumped out to a 17-10 lead, and forced the Mercer coach, Damien Elder to call two timeouts. Coming out the second timeout, Mercer stopped playing like teddy bears, and began to play like grizzlies. In an astounding comeback, Mercer finished on a 17-8 run to take the first set 27-25. In previous games, the Spartans had given up large leads to lose sets. Coach Corey Carlin had a quick, concise answer when asked if his team relaxed in the first set,
The momentum built in the first set by the Bears carried over into the second set. Mercer took a commanding 2-0 lead with a second set victory. The set however ended with a questionable out of bounds call in favor of Mercer. Carlin discussed how the call affected his team.
“We did not worry about it” Carlin said. “We should not have been in that position where that call cost us the set. Our only reference to that in the locker room was that it happened, and to take that off the table”.
Down by two sets, and one set away from a semi-final knock out, Carlin discussed what his team had to do coming out of halftime.
“We just need to play better” Carlin said. “There was no big speech, or big changes we made. We just need to stop committing errors, settle down, and play clean volleyball.
Over the next two sets, the Spartans returned to the form that allowed them to earn the third seed for the conference tournament. The team won the next two sets by a combined 50-32, and forced a fifth set tiebreaker.
To finish off the comeback, the Spartans took a quick 6-2 lead to put the game out of reach, and won the set and match 15-12. Jessica Brezwyn finished the game with a team high 16 kills, and 13 digs, while Sara Hohman led the team with a .545 hit percentage and 61 assist.
Game 2: Samford vs. UNCG
After the game Mercer, Coach Carlin talked about the next test against Samford.
“It is the playoffs, we are home, we have a tough, battle tested opponent in Samford, it is going to be a dogfight”.
Samford had swept through the Spartans on Homecoming less than a month ago, and once again, swept through the match, ending the UNCG season. The defense of Samford was impenetrable, holding the Spartans hit percentage below .200 for every set (in the negatives in set 2), while at the time, limiting seniors Kelsey Sidney and Vicky Harley to a combine 8 kills and -.077 hit percentage. After taking the first two sets 25-18, and 25-15, the third set saw the Blue and Gold battle back and forth. However, the Bulldogs 25-23, ending the Spartans season.
The Spartans finished 20-11 for the season, their first twenty-win season in four years. As the team says farewell to three seniors, hoping to leave a mark on the Spartan team in the future are SoCon Freshmen of the Year, Ashley Muench and Allison Penner, who signed her letter of intent on November 19 to play for the Spartans next fall. In his first year, Coach Corey Carlin has led his team to the semi-finals of the SoCon, setting up a large standard for his second season.