KINGSPORT, TN- A slow start put the Milligan College volleyball team on its heels Thursday afternoon in the opening round of the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament, but the Buffs showed resilience to pull off a 3-2 victory (22-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-27, 15-9) over Bluefield College at the MeadowView Marriott.
Milligan (31-7, 19-3 AAC), the two seed in the tournament, will now face either St. Andrews University or Montreat College in the semifinals Friday at 3:30 p.m.
Freshman setter Kellee Geren, the AAC setter of the year, tallied 52 assists in the victory to help put four Buffs in double figures for kills. Junior Marissa Langford and senior Samantha Bruinius, both All-AAC first team selections, topped that list with 19 kills and 15 kills respectively.
Senior Bailey Thomas provided a crucial spark off the bench as she recorded 12 kills and only one error, providing much of her fire power during the second and third sets when Milligan took control over the match.
Fellow senior Charlie Bateman added 12 kills to go along with three solo blocks and four assisted blocks. One of Bateman’s solo blocks came in the deciding set to put Milligan up 12-7 during its closing 10-5 run.
Milligan looked to finish the match in four sets as the Buffs led 21-19 late in the fourth, but a Bluefield rally of three straight points helped the Rams go back into the lead. Despite Milligan fighting off set points at 24-23 and 25-24, Bluefield finally took the last two points on a pair of kills to force the last set.
In the fifth, Milligan took an early lead on a kill from Bruinius and built on it from there. Bateman and Langford followed with kills of their own to make it 4-2, and the Buffs would shortly thereafter finish the match on the 10-5 run.
Milligan will play in the semifinals back here at MeadowView Marriott on Friday, Nov. 11, against St. Andrews or Montreat beginning at 3:30 p.m. A victory on Friday would put the Buffs into the AAC tournament final, scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m.
Courtesy: Milligan Athletics