GULFPORT, Miss. - The Spring Hill College volleyball team could not find a way around the NAIA's No. 1 rated Lee University Flames on Saturday night at the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Tournament Championship taking a 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-14) loss.
Spring Hill threw every trick in the book at the Flames in the first set, but Lee found answers for just about every challenge the Badgers could muster. With the set tied at 14 apiece, Lee broke open the deadlock with a 7-point run to leave the Badgers in a 21-14 hole and closed the set at 25-18.
The Badgers gamely rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to keep within striking distance of the Flames, but could not find the means to grab the lead as Lee turned their 20-18 advantage into a 23-18 bulge late in the match and a 25-20 win leaving Spring Hill down 0-2 in sets.
Lee overpowered the Badgers in the final set and used an early 10-1 run to build a 14-7 lead that SHC simply could not respond to as Lee coasted to a 25-14 win.
Junior Yiting Cao of Shanghai, China, led the Badgers ringing up 12 kills, 10 digs and two solo blocks with an assisted block. In her first season at SHC in 2010, Cao recorded 451 kills and an attack percentage of .368 on the campaign.
Freshman setter Taryn Nash of Independence, Mo., handed out 27 of the Badgers' 29 assists and finished the season with a total of 1,028 assists on the year.
As a team, the Badgers finished with a .105 attack percentage with 30 total kills, 36 digs, three aces and four total blocks.
Lee (35-0) was paced by Kayla Carlisle with 11 kills, Gretchen Higdon with 21 assists and Arlene Ferreira with 11 digs and three aces. Overall, the Flames scored 46 kills for an attack percentage of .356 with five aces, 48 digs and 10.5 total blocks.
Following the match, Cao (16) and Nash (13) were named to the 2010 All-SSAC Tournament Team along with junior outside hitter Abbey Roam (4) of Lebanon, Mo. (Photo left: Carol Roam)
SHC Head Coach Peggy Martin now holds 1,099 wins in her career.
Spring Hill wrapped up the 2010 season with a 27-5 record - a 19-win improvement over 2009 when they finished 8-16.