NEW ORLEANS, La. – The 19th ranked Spring Hill College volleyball team took a healthy scare from the Loyola University (La.) Wolfpack on Tuesday night at The Den, but emerged with their 29th consecutive win of the season in a 3-1 (20-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-20) outcome.
Loyola (14-9, 7-4 SSAC) took the first set 25-20 after rebounding from a 5-0 start by the Badgers in a rally highlighted by a 4-1 run that gave the Wolfpack its first lead of the set at 12-11. The Badgers then found themselves in a hole too deep to climb out as they fell down 22-15 after a late 5-point run by Loyola.
The second set was a complete reversal of fortunes for both squads as Loyola jumped out 4-0 and 7-1, but the Badgers regrouped after a timeout to take a 14-13 lead. Spring Hill used a 4-point run behind the serving of senior Abby Roam of Lebanon, Mo., to build out a 24-18 advantage before finishing the set at 25-18.
In the third set the Badgers took a hearty lead midway through the period and appeared to have regained their confidence in a 25-16 victory.
The Wolfpack would not go away quietly, however, as Loyola fought tooth and nail for every point in the fourth and final set. Both teams could gain no more than a 2-point edge throughout most of the set and the score was knotted at 17-17 before SHC finally gained breathing room with 5-1 sprint that put Loyola on the ropes at 22-18.
With the win, Spring Hill clinched the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) West Division crown for the second consecutive year.
Senior right side hitter Yiting Cao of Shanghai, China, recorded 18 kills and 16 digs, while sophomore middle hitter Sha Sha Buchanan of Mobile's McGill-Toolen Catholic High School notched 10 kills and 4 blocks. Freshman Megan Haber from Foley, Ala., also rang up 11 kills and 5 total blocks while hitting an impressive .625 attack percentage.
Sophomore setter Taryn Nash of Independence, Mo., tallied 45 assists while sophomore Meredith Donald from McGill-Toolen scooped up 19 digs and Roam added 15 digs to the Badger totals.
The Badgers (29-0, 12-0) will host Southern University-New Orleans (11-6) in the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in a non-conference match. In support of the continuing fight against Breast Cancer, fans are asked to wear pink to the game.