KINGSPORT, Tenn. (Nov. 13, 2014) – The Milligan College volleyball team advanced to the Appalachian Athletic Conference Semifinals as they advanced past Tennessee Wesleyan College, 3-1 (25-11, 18-25, 25-18, 26-24), Thursday evening at the MeadowView Convention Center in Kingsport.
Milligan (19-16, 10-4 AAC) will play Union College in the semifinals Friday morning at 11 a.m. The winner of that matchup will face the winner of the other semifinal match, Bryan College and Reinhardt University, which will also be played Friday morning at 11 a.m. The Buffaloes split with Union this season, winning a nonconference home match in September before falling in a league road match in October.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Head Coach Doneva Bays said. “They have worked extremely hard all year. Tennessee Wesleyan, to their credit, have had to battle all day long. Playing three matches in a day is tough enough on any team, and to be an underdog coming in makes it even tougher. However, we came out really strong. I couldn’t have asked for us to play any better.”
The last of Emiliee Linkous’ nine kills came in one of the most pivotal points of the match. With Milligan leading 2-1 overall but the Buffaloes on the ropes in game four, the junior middle knocked down an emphatic kill to give her team a 25-24 lead. Freshman Marissa Langford had the last of her match high 14 kills on the next point to push Milligan to victory. The pair of kills came after the Buffs squandered a 16-10 lead as TWC took a 21-19 lead late in game four.
Jessica Davenport registered the assist on each of the last two kills for the Buffaloes, and finished with 39 total to go along with eight digs, five kills and a service ace. In addition to Linkous and Langford, Davenport found a friendly target in Samantha Bruinius, a sophomore outside hitter who came to life in game three, helping Milligan steal the momentum back after falling in game two.
Bruinius seemed to hit the ball harder and harder as the day moved on, crushing kills on back-to-back points to put Milligan up 10-4 in game three. Later on in game four, she hammered down a kill to cut back into TWC’s late lead.
Bruinius finished the match with 12 kills while also tallying 11 digs. Langford also had a double-double with 10 digs (14 kills).
Kaitlyn Round led the way on defense with 21 digs, marking the seventh time this season she had reached 20 or more in a match.
Tennessee Wesleyan, which entered the tournament as the eight seed but moved up to the six spot after pool play re-aligned the top six, was led by Hayli Raines who finished with 12 kills as the only Lady Bulldog in double figures for kills. Tennessee Wesleyan was held to an attack rate of .085.
Milligan and Tennessee Wesleyan met twice this season. Milligan took the first meeting in four, losing only game two by a score of 28-26. The last time they met was a conference meeting where Milligan limited TWC to no more than 16 points in any single game. Langford finished that match with 13 kills on 25 attack attempts. Linkous had six kills as part of Milligan’s team .305 hitting percentage.