NCAA Tournament Central
ATLANTA – The Birmingham-Southern women's volleyball team went toe-to-toe with a very scrappy Covenant College Thursday afternoon in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Atlanta Regional. BSC (20-9) fell 3-2 to the Scots in a tight battle to end the season.
Marjorie Ward (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS) and Emmy Kilgore (Mountain Brook, Ala./Mountain Brook HS) finished with double-doubles. Ward led with a match-high 20 kills and earned 12 digs. Kilgore had 15 kills and 16 digs.
The Panthers started out strong in set one, taking the 13-6 early lead. But Covenant battle back to tie the match up at 19-all. The Scots would close out on a 6-1 run to end the first set and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
The Panthers responded by pulling ahead in set two. They led by as many as eight and were the first to 20. Again the Scots rallied late and pulled within one, 21-20, before BSC sided out and followed it with an ace by Rylee Segrest (Anniston, Ala./The Donoho School), to push ahead by three. A service error by Covenant put the Panthers on set point. And a big kill by Denby would seal the deal and tie the match up at 1-all.
The teams battled even in set three, neither leading by more than three points at a time. Covenant was up 15-12 when the Panthers went on a 10-0 run to take the 22-15 lead. After a timeout from the Scots resulted in a sideout, BSC would earn the serve right back on a kill from Ward. Back-to-back kills from Ward ended the set and gave BSC the 2-1 lead.
The Panthers trailed by as many as eight in the fourth set before rallying. Down 19-15, they went on a 5-0 run to take the lead 20-19. BSC fended off three Covenant set points to tie the match at 24-all. But back-to-back attack errors gave the Scots the win and forced a set five.
Covenant led 8-3 at the swap in set five. The Panthers sided out and pushed six points to take the 10-8 lead. Both teams traded sideouts for the next few rallies until the Scots tied it up and took the lead 14-12 off three straight Panther attack errors. Denby drilled the ball down to pull the Panthers within one. But a kill from Jessica Seehorn ended the match.
This is the second time in three years the Panthers have earned an NCAA tournament bid.