MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (Nov. 9, 2016) – Head Coach Doneva Bays earned the Appalachian Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honor, freshman Kellee Geren earned the AAC Setter of the Year honor, and five Buffs made the all-conference team to highlight this year’s volleyball awards for Milligan College, as announced by the league at the annual awards banquet Wednesday night.
Geren, in addition to being named setter of the year, earned a spot on the all-conference first team and all-freshmen team. Senior Samantha Bruinius and junior Marissa Langford joined Geren on the all-conference first team, and seniors Charlie Bateman and Grace Ann Moorhouse were on the all-conference second team.
Other awards for Milligan included Bateman making the champions of character team, and Bateman, Bruinius, Jadin Foster, Langford, Moorhouse, Janae Rangel, Alora Ricker and Alyssa Rupert making the all-academic team.
Bays led the Buffs to its first 30-win season since 1997 and its most wins in a season since the 2010 team finished 29-12. Milligan will enter the postseason on Thursday looking to improve upon its current 30-7 (19-3 AAC) record.
The Buffs were the AAC regular-season runner-up, finishing only one win shy of its first AAC title in the near 20-year history of the conference. They can make the NAIA Volleyball National Championship by winning the conference tournament or by facing Union College in the AAC championship match.
In the midst of all the team’s success, Geren was both figuratively and literally at the center of it all. Geren led the conference in assists (1,301) and assists per set (9.9) while also contributing 102 kills, an attack percentage of .255, 318 digs, 34.5 total blocks and 24 service aces. Her 1,301 kills ranked eighth in the nation.
Geren’s season high in assists came in a thrilling five-set victory at home against Bluefield when she recorded 56. It was one of five times this season Geren recorded 50 or more assists in a match.
Geren’s two top targets were Bruinius and Langford who both eclipsed 1,000 career kills this season and who ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the conference, respectively, in total kills. Bruinius’ season total of 471 helped her average 3.6 kills/set, ranking third in the AAC, while Langford recorded 443 kills this season, ranking second in the AAC at 3.7 kills/set.
While Geren, Bruinius, Langford and other Buffs were providing the bulk of the offense, Bateman and Moorhouse were keys to Milligan’s defense. Bateman was one of the top players nationally in blocks, ranking No. 4 in the NAIA with 161 total blocks on the season. It was the top mark in the conference by a long shot and helped Milligan top the AAC blocks list as a team with 302.
Bateman added 194 kills, 59 digs and 14 service aces to her season tallies.
Moorhouse was Milligan’s leader in digs with 690, and the senior eclipsed 1,000 career digs early in the season. With an average of 5.2 digs per set, Moorhouse ranked in the top three in the conference in both digs and digs/set, and she was in the top 20 in the nation in digs. Moorhouse’s career high of 49 digs came late in the season as Milligan won a stretch of nine straight matches to help lock up the runner-up spot in the AAC.
Among Milligan’s AAC all-conference selections, the Buffs were represented as players of the week 12 times. Geren was a five-time setter of the week, Moorhouse was a four-time defender of the week, and Langford (two) and Bruinius (one) combined for attacker of the week three times. Langford, Moorhouse and Geren swept the awards on Sept. 12.
Postseason play begins Thursday for Milligan as the Buffs have a matchup against Bluefield College at 2:15 p.m. at the MeadowView Marriott in Kingsport. With preceding victories, the Buffs would also play Friday at 3:30 p.m. then Saturday at 2 p.m.
To be eligible for the AAC all-academic team, the student-athlete must maintain a 3.25 grade-point average and have sophomore or higher academic standing.