The Samford Bulldogs volleyball team (24-5, 15-1) won their second consecutive Southern Conference Tournament which took place in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Nov. 18.
The tournament was won through a nail-biting 3-2 victory over the ETSU Owls (25-6, 14-2).
“I feel very fortunate because ETSU is an exceptional team,” Samford Head Coach Keylor Chan said in the post-game press conference. “We were able to do the small things. Now that we’ve made it, we want to win a round in the NCAA Tournament.”
Prior to the championship match, the Bulldogs also took down the Citadel (11-20, 4-12) and Furman (8-21, 7-9). Samford dominated the Citadel 3-0, and then defeated Furman in a close 3-2 battle in the semifinals.
The fact that the trophy was hoisted after a victory over ETSU was especially rewarding for the Bulldogs. ETSU was the only SoCon opponent that the Bulldogs lost to in the regular season. The Bulldogs later beat the Owls in their second meeting of the regular season, but it was nearly inevitable that the two powerhouses would meet once more.
Samford won the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-22, respectively. The Bulldogs just needed to win one more set to win the title, but the Owls were not done yet. They won the next two sets, 25-23, 25-17. Finally, in the fifth and final set, the Bulldogs dominated 15-8 to win the match.
This victory gives Coach Chan his third SoCon tournament championship in only four years at Samford.
Chan has yet to advance his Bulldogs past the first round of the NCAA tournament, however, the Bulldogs will have another chance to upset a high-seeded opponent this year.
As for All-Tournament honors, the Bulldogs had several ladies on the list.
Senior Kelsi Hobbs was named the tournament’s most valuable player. She recorded a career-high 26 kills in the championship match.
Sophomore standout Lauren Deaton recorded 20 kills in the championship match, and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Junior Sierra Rayzor also earned All-Tournament team honors. She recorded 28 total kills throughout the tournament.
The tournament selection show on Sunday revealed that the Bulldogs will be traveling to Louisville, Kentucky to take on the Louisville Cardinals (19-9, 12-6) in the first round of the tournament.
The Louisvile Cardinals’ most recent game was a loss in the first round of the ACC Tournament. They were defeated by the Pittsburgh Panthers by a score of 1-3.
If the Bulldogs lose to the Cardinals, their season will end. Last year, their season ended after their first round loss to USC in a 3-0 shutout.
The game will take place on Thursday at 5 p.m.