Spring Hill rebounded after dropping the first set of the match to Edward Waters 21-25 to win three straight matches (25-23, 25-20, 25-13) to win their fifth consecutive Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference volleyball championship at the Tsunami Center in Jonesboro, GA.
“We started out really slow and flat,” said Badgers Head Coach Peggy Martin. “It was a long wait, waiting around all day long and we didn’t come out with a lot of fire and they did. They just really played well.”
“We definitely picked up our energy and we decided to play together as one,” said sophomore Jaylyne Bell.
Edward Waters kept the seesaw set close before going on a 5-0 run to take a 20-18 lead. scoring the last four points to take the first set. Fatima Ramirez had three aces in the run for the Tigers. De’Nyla Harlan scored the last two kills to give the Tigers a setup on the defending champions.
Set 2 looked a lot like the first with the two talented squads going back and forth. Down by three points, the Tigers went on a 3-0 run to tie the set 20-20. Ramirez put the Tigers ahead 22-21 with a solid kill that glanced off the fingers of one of the players on the Badgers second line. The junior outside hitter from Belize scored 8 of the Tigers’ points in the set.
The battle intensified as Bell found success in the middle. “I think I can turn a little bit better sometimes than going to the pins,” said the middle hitter. “I feel like I could work around the block a little bit better.”
Bell’s ability to score five points on kills and two on blocks from the middle opened led to the Badgers taking a 23-22 lead. Jessica Fairly added a kill to her 6 assists to draw the Badgers within one point of a win in set 2. Back on the attack, a laser spike from Ramirez brought the Tigers within a point of tying the set. On serve, the Tigers’ Jenieth Guzman’s dig allowed for a perfect set to Harlan. In an uncharacteristic moment, the freshman changed her motion in mid-air hitting the ball into her teammates’ arms.
The next two sets were not as close as the first two. Spring Hill jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never relinquished it. Edward Waters got within one point only once in the third set (4-5). The Badgers led by as many as six before Airyonna Weaver spiked the winning point. The junior from Mobile, AL scored the last three points to set up the final set of the night. Mia Saavedra led the Badgers with 5 kills in the third set.
There was simply no denying the Badgers in the fourth set. Spring Hill jumped out to an 8-1 lead and never looked back. Edward Waters was unable to mount any type of run never scoring more than two consecutive points before the Badgers responded. The Badgers outscored the Tigers 2-to-1 before Weaver struck the final blow to clinch yet another title for Spring Hill.
The Badgers will find out where they are headed in the NCAA DII National Tournament on Monday afternoon. Bell says the team learned a lot from their experience losing to Tampa last year.
2023 SIAC WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS
|Fatima Ramirez||Outside Hitter||Junior||Edward Waters||Belmopan, Belize|
|Shynique McGee||Outside Hitter||Junior||Clark Atlanta||Atlanta, GA|
|Jarianis Perez||Outside Hitter||Freshman||Albany State||Jacksonville, FL|
|Casey Williams||Middle Hitter||Freshman||Central State||The Colony, Texas|
|Allena Norton||Middle Hitter||Sophomore||Savannah State||Chapin, SC|
|Myra Lopez||Libero||Freshman||Allen||Mesa, Arizona|
|Mataiya Barber||Setter||Sophomore||Edward Waters||Denton, Texas|
|Anayah Goss||Outside Hitter||Junior||Lane||Compton, CA|
|Maliyah Spencer||Outside Hitter||Sophomore||Allen||Surprise, AZ|
|Moriah Seay||Outside Hitter||Junior||Tuskegee||Prattville, AL|
|Jaylyne Bell||Middle Hitter||Sophomore||Spring Hill||Spring Hill, KS|
|Maia Thompson||Middle Hitter||Senior||Lane||Duncanville, TX|
|Chaiza Jones||Libero||Sophomore||Miles||Huntsville, AL|
|Natalie Onozie||Setter||Sophomore||Albany State||Houston, TX|
Coach of the Year: Peggy Martin, Spring Hill College
Player of the Year: Fatima Ramirez, Edward Waters University
Freshman of the Year: Jarianis Perez, Albany State University
Libero of the Year: Myra Lopez, Allen University
Setter of the Year: Mataiya Barber, Edward Waters University
Elite 14: La’Jai Wilson, Benedict College