Badger Athletics - Spring Hill College News
Badgers won a 5-set war with Shorter to earn spot in conference finals
Badgers won a 5-set war with Shorter to earn spot in conference finals
Volleyball - Sat, Nov. 12, 2011

BILOXI, Miss. – The 18th ranked and undefeated Spring Hill College volleyball team slipped past the Shorter University Hawks by a score of 3-2 (25-23, 22-25, 25-19, 15-7) in the semifinals of the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Championships on Saturday morning at the Ray Kroc Salvation Army Center.

The opening set saw Spring Hill take an early 8-5 advantage before the Hawks clawed back to take their first lead at 14-13. SHC then trailed 15-13, but came out of a timeout to reclaim the upper hand at 18-17 and expanded the lead to 21-18. Shorter would rally to tie the set 22-22, but a service ace by senior right side hitter Yiting Cao of Shanghai, China, ended the set at 25-23.

In the second set, Shorter grabbed a 6-2 lead only to see SHC rally to take a 10-9 edge. The Hawks regrouped for an 18-15 lead, but the Badgers would not go away and knotted things at 20-20.  A three-point Shorter sprint made it 24-21 for the Hawks as they took the set 25-22 to even the match at a set apiece.

SHC held a 14-12 advantage midway through the third set, but Shorter used a 9-2 run to 24-17 to put the Badgers in a hole from which they could not climb out, falling 25-19 in the set and going down 2-1 in the match.

With their backs to the wall, Spring Hill responded with a classic fourth set that featured 15 tie scores with just two lead changes. Shorter took the lead at 12-11 off a service ace and then could do no better than a one-point lead as the teams proceeded to swap serves 11 consecutives times.

Down 17-19, SHC head coach Dr. Peggy Martin called a crucial timeout and the Badgers replied by tying the set at 20-20 and then taking the lead at 23-22. The teams fought tooth-and-nail for the final points before Spring Hill prevailed 28-26 to once again tie the match at 2-2.

The fifth and deciding set was dominated by Spring Hill's All-American player Cao as the Badgers bolted out to a 6-2 lead at the court swap and a late 11-4 bulge before they could salt things away at 15-7.

Cao paced the Badger offense with 28 kills, three aces and 13 digs as senior Cassandra Marchand-Stewart of Grand Bay, Ala., also took 14 kills and sophomore middle hitter Sha Sha Buchanan of Mobile's McGill-Toolen Catholic High School had 15 kills and four total blocks.

Sophomore setter Taryn Nash of Independence, Mo., assigned 67 assists and sophomore Meredith Donald from McGill-Toolen roped in 30 digs for the Badgers.

Shorter (29-8) had four players reach double-digit kills led by Loren Olive with 18 kills to go along with a service ace. Libero Tanequa Whitman pulled in 21 digs while setter Jordan Corder dished out 62 assists for the Hawks.

As a team, the Badgers knocked home 71 kills off a .275 attack percentage and six aces. Shorter collected 70 kills with a .287 attack percentage and four aces.

SHC (38-0) now moves into the tournament finals at 7 p.m. versus the winner of this afternoon's Lee University/Loyola University match.