Samford’s volleyball team won the Southern Conference tournament for the fourth time in five years this past weekend.
After defeating the seventh-ranked Citadel in five sets and then taking down the third-ranked Western Carolina in five sets, the Bulldogs took on the eighth-ranked Furman Paladins on their home court.
Samford took the first two sets with ease, outscoring the Paladins by 12 and 11 points.
The Bulldogs then started the third set slower than they wanted. The Paladins took an early lead of 4-1 until Samford battled back pushing the score to 14-12.
“I don’t think there was ever a doubt in our minds that we were going to lose the third set. We played at such a high level in the first and second set and the momentum carried over to the third, but our level of play dropped just a little bit,” said redshirt sophomore middle blocker Kate Wonus. “We knew we just had to get it done at that moment and not push it to a fourth set. Everyone on the court was extremely calm and confident, we knew we were winning that game in 3 sets.”
Samford then lost the lead to the Paladins and had to fight back to tie the match at 25-25. The set, going into extra points, ended with a kill from freshman middle blocker Greer Golden.
The Bulldogs took the championship match in three consecutive sets and were led by outside Kenya McQuirter with 18 kills and four blocks. Wonus also added nine kills and three blocks to help her team to the victory.
After the trophy presentation, McQuirter was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Gracie Lynn Butler, Wonus, and McQuirter were named to the All-Tournament Team. Wonus was awarded the Pinnacle Award for her outstanding GPA during the season.
“It was an extremely rewarding feeling. Going into the tournament I had a very in the moment type of mindset and just wanted to play my best point for point and not think of anything outside of each point. Especially with the finals game, the adrenaline of it all really took over,” said senior outside Kenya McQuirter. “So once everything was over and to be announced MVP it was a very good feeling and a kind of sense of relief that had been built up for really all my years here at Samford.”
The Bulldogs punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament with this win and will face the No. 1 ranked Louisville Cardinals. The two teams will play this Friday at 5 p.m. at L&N Federal Credit Union Arena in Louisville.