BILOXI, Miss. – The 18th-ranked Spring Hill College volleyball team saw its 38-match winning streak snapped at the hands of the 4th-ranked Lee University Lady Flames by a score of 3-1 (25-22, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21) in the Finals of the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Championship Tournament on Saturday night at the Ray Kroc Salvation Army Center.
Spring Hill led in the first set 20-17 much to the joy of their iron-lunged fans who made the 1-hour trip from Mobile, but Lee (30-2) delivered a gut shot to the Badgers by rallying for a 6-point run that posted the Flames to a 23-20 advantage.
After finishing off the first set 25-22, the hangover lingered over the Badgers as Lee steamrolled to an 11-0 lead in Set Number 2 behind the serving of senior Stephanie Todd. Spring Hill finally broke Todd's serve and rebounded to within a score of 17-13, but the damage was done and the Flames jumped out to a commanding 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-17 win.
Much to the credit of the Badgers, they refused to fade and took the third set by a score of 25-20 and held as much as a 12-6 bulge midway through the set.
It appeared the Badgers had staggered the Flames when they took a 12-7 lead in the fourth set, but once again Todd stepped to the service line and delivered a 5-point run to tie the set at 12-12. Lee then decided the match with a 7-1 outburst that dug the Badgers into a 20-15 hole and closed the championship with a 25-21 final set score.
Following the match, senior right side hitter Yiting Cao of Shanghai, China, and sophomore setter Taryn Nash were named to the SSAC 2011 All-Tournament Team.
Cao finished with 19 of the Badgers' 46 kills and Nash handed out 39 assists. Sophomores Meredith Donald and Sha Sha Buchanan from Mobile's McGill-Toolen Catholic High School also had outstanding matches with Donald gaining 22 digs and Buchanan making a total of 11 blocks.
Lee was led by Arlene Ferreira with 23 kills, Libby Peigen with 25 digs and Lauren Williams with 11 total blocks.
SHC (38-1) now must wait to discover its fate with the NAIA Selection Committee to hear if they have been chosen for an at-large bid to the National Tournament.