The 19th ranked Spring Hill College volleyball team defeated the University of Mobile Rams 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-20) in a conference match on Thursday evening at the H. Austil Pharr Gymnasium to complete its run to a perfect 36-0 mark in regular season play.
Spring Hill rushed out to a 5-1 advantage in the first set, but Mobile (23-13, 7-7 SSAC) rallied to cut the Badger advantage to just 9-8. From there, SHC could not find a way to shake free from the Rams as each time Spring Hill pulled ahead UM found a means to reel them back in.
Mobile trailed just 23-22, but the Badgers followed up a timeout by Head Coach Peggy Martin with two quick points to win the set 25-22.
The second set was a nail-biter for the Badgers, but in the end it also showed their determination for success. SHC and UM traded points for the first third of the set with the Badgers holding a slim 7-6 advantage before Mobile ran off a 4-point streak to take their first lead of the contest.
For much of the remainder of the set, the Badgers consistently trailed from four to three points and were constantly frustrated by Mobile's ability find ways to dig out attacks, track down loose balls and find open areas on the floor. With Spring Hill down 23-20 and their backs to the wall, sophomore libero Meredith Donald of Mobile's McGill-Toolen Catholic School approached the service line and served the Badgers to an incredible 5-point run that won the set 25-23 and staggered the Rams.
To the credit of the home team, the Rams came out of the intermission with a determined attitude and continued to battle the Badgers tooth-and-nail. Mobile took an 11-7 lead, but then a bizarre series of three consecutive service errors by both teams followed and made the score 12-10 in favor of the Rams. The mishap seemed to encourage the Spring Hill squad, however.
Mobile later clung to a 17-15 advantage, but senior outside hitter Abbey Roam of Lebanon, Mo., rattled off a 7-point Badger service run that included an ace to post SHC to an 18-17 lead and five consecutive attack errors by the Rams to make the score 22-17 for the visitors and Spring Hill's fans began to smell the blood in the water.
The final run to perfection for the Badgers came with a 3-3 score over the final six points that resulted in a jubilant celebration by the Spring Hill players and fans in attendance.
Senior right side hitter Yiting Cao of Shanghai, China, tallied an attack percentage of .444 for SHC and rang up 19 kills with 16 receptions and two blocks for 20 points scored. Sophomore setter Taryn Nash of Independence, Mo., passed around 37 assists and Donald recorded 15 digs.
Alison Kenney had 14 kills and 13 digs for UM while Reagin Boggs handed out 21 assists.
Spring Hill held a total attack percentage of .307 at night's end and held Mobile to .181 with 22 attack errors. As a result, the Rams actually outscored the Badgers 46-43, but suffered too many mistakes to find consistent success.
The win gave the 2011 Badger squad the school's most wins in a single season, passing the 35-18 record of the 2003 team.
The Badgers (36-0, 14-0 SSAC West) will next begin play in the opening round of the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Championship Tournament in Biloxi, Miss., as the top seed on Friday, November 11 at the Ray Koch Salvation Army Center.