The East second-seed Meredith College volleyball team collected the program’s first USA South Championship Saturday afternoon with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-22, 25-21) sweep over East top-seed and host Averett University.
Meredith will face the Juniata College Eagles in the NCAA Division III first round, at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11 at University of Mary Washington. Links to live action will be available on the goavengingangels.com schedule page later this week. The winner will advance to Regional semifinal Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
In the USA South Championship, tournament Most Valuable Player Hannah Blaylock led the match with 39 assists, adding nine digs. Caroline Corey, who also earned All-Tournament honors, led the Avenging Angels with 15 kills, hitting .361. Middle blockers Alex Hafliger and Haley Reeg combined for nine blocks and 15 kills in the win, and both earned All-Tournament honors for the Angels.
MCVB entered the championship with just one loss versus USA South foes this season, which came at the hand of Averett October 29 with the Regular Season title to the winner. But Meredith remained focused on their goal and stayed true to a championship routine in order to dominate Saturday’s action.
Corey and Reeg opened the match with back-to-back kills, and the Angels were off to a great start. Meredith continued to pressure the Cougars and held a 12-7 advantage midway through the set.
At 19-15 Karlie Long put away a pair of winners, and Elizabeth Pattison found a gap from the right side to extend MC’s lead to seven. Blaylock dished out three more assists to finish off AU for a 1-0 advantage.
Averett pushed back in the second stanza and held a 15-11 lead. A service error returned the ball to the Angels as Meredith prepared for a comeback. Reeg landed a kill, and then Pattison and Hafliger stuffed Averett’s offensive leader Hannah Shields. The deflection unsettled Sheilds who committed an unforced error on the next play.
Meredith slowly chipped away at AU’s lead with Hafliger on the block and Corey and Reeg finding the gap from the front line. Blaylock and Corey teamed up for a final winner to extend Meredith’s match lead to two.
The Cougars refused to fold without a fight and came out swinging in the third frame. The teams exchanged points early before AU managed a five-point rally to take a 10-6 lead.
Long ended the series, and Hafliger found a gap to pull Meredith to within three. But a pair of missteps spread the gap back to five. The teams continued to battle with Averett leading the way 21-19.
A kill from Corey launched a six-point rally, and the Angels finally put away the Cougars for the win and USA South crown.
Keegan Lynch led the Avenging Angels’ defense with 11 digs, and Long and Pattison recorded six kills apiece. Jessica Goodwin and Emery McGee finished with five digs apiece, and Katie Keen added four digs with a pair of assists.
2016 All-Tournament Team
Julia Vineyard, Maryville
Brianna Williams, Averett
Hannah Shields, Averett
Alex Hafliger, Meredith
Haley Reeg, Meredith
Caroline Corey, Meredith
Hannah Blaylock, Meredith (MVP)