The East top-seed Meredith College Avenging Angels captured the program’s second USA South Volleyball Tournament Championship on November 3 with a 3-0 (26-24, 25-17, 25-20) victory over West fourth-seed Piedmont.
Meredith will take on Emory in the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
Junior middle Cathy Delano garnered the tournament’s Most Valuable Player honor hitting .389 during the postseason action with 28 kills, eight blocks, six service aces, and six digs.
Piedmont gave the Angels trouble early on, leading the first set by as many as five points. Meredith turned a corner midway through the set with a 5-1 run, but the Lions responded to push their advantage back to five at 18-3. Avery Bowman dished out back-to-back assists to Ally Copenhaver, and a couple of Piedmont misfires kept MCVB close. Corey and Delano stuffed Alina Roberts and Delano added a service ace on the next ball to pull to within two. The momentum began a clear shift towards the Angels, as Meredith chipped away at the Lion lead.
Elisabeth Smith picked up a solo block to even the score at 24, and Copenhaver landed a kill after a Piedmont timeout for match-point. The Lions left the ball in the net on the next play, and the Angels exhaled with a one-set advantage.
The teams battled for an advantage in the second frame, and MCVB finally stepped up with a 7-1 run to pull ahead 17-11. Corey, Copenhaver, and Smith landed winners from the corners, and a right side block extended the Angels’ advantage to seven. Delano dropped two more from the middle, as the Avenging Angels pushed ahead for a 2-0 lead.
Another slow start for Meredith in the third left the Lions with a 7-2 lead. But a mishandled ball followed by an ace from Bowman interrupted the flow. MCVB evened the score at nines and again at 10s. A kill from Corey followed by another Bowman service winner tied the set at 16, and back-to-back winners from Corey and Reeg finally edged the Angels in front 18-17. The Avenging Angels frontline assumed control of the set with five unanswered points, and Lauren Phillips punctuated the rally with a service ace to give Meredith match-point. Piedmont stripped MCVB of the serve, good for two more points, but Delano finished out the win with a blast in the middle.
Corey led the day with a dozen kills, adding 13 points, and Delano tallied 12 kills with three blocks. Bowman dished out 32 assists with 13 digs, and Copenhaver recorded double-digit kills with three digs. Haley Reeg notched four kills, and Phillips led all with 18 digs. Samantha Smith posted 14 digs, and E. Smith added four kills with a trio of blocks in the win.
Jenna Wendel notched 18 assists for the Lions, and Lainey Choiniere grabbed 17 digs.
USA South Honors
On November 1, several honors were announced for Meredith Volleyball. Junior outside hitter Caroline Corey earned her second individual honor and MCVB’s first as the Player of the Year, and Head Coach Fiona Barkley garnered Coach of the Year honors. Both awards mark a first for Meredith volleyball and lead a slate of MCVB recognition. Corey collects her second career individual honor after earning Rookie of the Year in 2016. The first Avenging Angel to be named Volleyball Player of the Year, Corey collects First Team All-Conference and First Team East Division honors for the third consecutive season. She leads the conference in points scored per set with 4.3 while also averaging 3.58 kills and 2.81 digs per set with a .225 hitting percentage. Additionally, Corey tallied 45 service aces, 23 blocks, and 16 assists so far this fall. In matches versus USA South opposition Corey averaged 3.75 kills, 2.86 digs, and 4.3 points per set with a .241 hitting percentage. She was named USA South Player of the Week twice during the season.
In her 11th year leading Meredith and one year removed from taking a season away from the bench, Barkley earns her first USA South Volleyball Coach of the Year honor. She directed MCVB to their second USA South Regular Season Championship this fall, and the first since 2014, with a share of the East Division title posting a 15-1 mark in conference action. With a current 21-4 overall record, Barkley led Meredith to five 20-plus win seasons. She now takes the Avenging Angels into the USA South Tournament semifinals as the East’s top seed and host, looking to capture the tournament title for the second time in three years.
Meredith’s lone senior, Haley Reeg collected her first volleyball season award this season as a member of the East Division First Team, also being named to the All-Sportsmanship team. Reeg ranks in the top-20 among league players with 12 block solos, 46 total blocks, and 0.55 blocks per set. She added 137 kills, eight assists, and 11 digs thus far for MCVB.
Junior Cathy Delano landed on the East Division Second Team as the Avenging Angels’ top blocker. She ranks in the USA South’s top-10 with 54 block assists, 63 total blocks, and 0.74 blocks per set this season and third in the league with 48 service aces. Delano also contributed 132 kills, 15 assists, and 59 digs.