KINGSPORT, Tenn. (Nov. 11, 2016) – The Milligan College volleyball team’s first 30-win season since 1997 came to an end Friday evening at the MeadowView Marriott as St. Andrews University handed the Buffs an upset in four sets, 25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 25-23, in the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament semifinals.
Milligan finished the season at 31-8 (19-3 AAC) and for the second year in a row was one win shy of making the NAIA Volleyball National Championship tournament. The semifinal matchup versus St. Andrews featured an automatic bid to the national championship for the winner after Union, the regular season winner, made it to the AAC final in the day’s first match.
Senior Samantha Bruinius, an All-AAC first team selection, tallied 16 kills to finish her decorated Milligan career with 1,445 total kills. Bruinius used the last two matches of her career to move up in the records as she passed Tara Earhart on Milligan’s all-time kills list. Earhart (1,415 career kills) was previously recognized as the program’s career kills leader, although complete season-by-season statistics have not been found prior to the 1997 season.
Bruinius was a member of the 1,000 club in two statistical categories as she also finished her career with 1,582.
Junior Marissa Langford, also on the All-AAC first team, finished the match with nine kills while seniors Charlie Bateman and Bailey Thomas had seven apiece. Freshman setter Kellee Geren, the AAC Setter of the Year, All-AAC first team and all-freshman pick, recorded 35 assists and 11 digs.
Geren was one of five Buffs in double figures for digs as Bruinius (18), Alyssa Rupert (15), Grace Ann Moorhouse (14) and Jadin Foster (10) were all keys to the defensive effort.
Similar to Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup against Bluefield, which the Buffs won in five sets, Milligan started Friday’s semifinal matchup slow and trailed 25-23 after the first set. The Buffs responded, though, with 15 kills in the second set to even the match up, and after dropping the third set 25-18, they looked to respond by evening things up in the fourth.
Milligan led 22-17 in the fourth until an 8-1 run by St. Andrews closed the match.
For the tournament, Thomas led Milligan with a .306 attack percentage while Bruinius led Milligan with 3.4 kills/set and Bateman led Milligan with 1.6 blocks/set.