By defeating top-seeded East Tennessee State University by a score of 3-1 in the Southern Conference Tournament on Nov. 18, the Samford Volleyball team earned their fourth-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs had previously been selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament in 2011, 2014, and 2016, all by way of winning the Southern Conference Tournament.
In this year’s conference tournament, Samford dominated the field, starting out with a 3-1 victory over Chattanooga, then moving onto a 3-0 win over Furman, before finally securing their fourth conference title with the win over the ETSU Bucs.
Last week, the Bulldogs traveled all the way across the country to Los Angeles, California, to take on No. 17 USC in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. After a hard fought match that saw Samford play three back and forth sets, the Bulldogs came up on the short end to the Trojans, losing 3-0.
Junior Kelsi Hobbs led the Bulldogs with 12 kills and seven digs. Senior Krista Boesing added 10 kills for the Bulldogs. The outside hitter from New Albany, Indiana, finished her Samford career with 1,376 kills, which ranks fourth in school history. Senior Taylor Anderton had 36 assists for Samford, finishing with 3,824 in her career. The Southern Conference Tournament MVP ends her career at Samford ranked fourth in school history in assists.
The Bulldogs kept it close in all three sets. The first set saw USC jump out to a 7-2 lead before Samford cut it to 7-5. After another USC scoring run, the Bulldogs cut the lead to only three points, sitting at 14-17 in favor of the Trojans. USC then pulled away for an 18-25 set win.
In the second set, Samford had a late lead of 20-18, before USC jumped out to take the lead and win the set 25-19. The third set saw USC gain a large lead early and never look back. The Trojans built the lead to 23-12 before eventually winning the set 25-14.
The loss ended Samford’s season, putting their final record at 19-15. The Trojans’ record improved to 22-10. However, USC would fall in the next round to San Diego by a score of 3-0.
Next season looks to be an exciting one for the Bulldogs, as they will return all but four players from this years team. Coach Keylor Chan and his staff will look to take their success and experience from this season as they look ahead to what should be an exciting 2019 season.
Collin is a sports writer for The Crimson. He is a senior finance major.