Lady Barons dig in deep to win own tourney

 

The Brewton-Parker College Lady Barons won their own four-team invitational volleyball tournament Saturday at the Student Activities Center, but the team the Lady Barons swept to begin the tournament Friday forced Brewton-Parker to dig in deep for the tourney title.

 

Toccoa Falls College, which the Lady Barons defeated 3-0 in Friday's first round, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Saturday's championship match and led in the third and fourth games before Brewton-Parker turned the match around, won those games and the decisive fifth game 15-13 to win the tournament championship by a 3-2 game count.

 

"They won the first two games and then we had a meeting outside," said Lady Barons coach Jason Bryant, whose team (26-8 overall) had not lost a game in its four previous tournament matches. "We came back in and my girls had more heart and character than I've ever seen. Some people stepped up big for us.

 

"The defense of (junior outside hitter) Aislyn MacLeod in that last game was unbelievable. (Senior hitter) Mindy Cooper stepped in and played tremendously, Lindsay Gomme (senior defensive specialist) played great defense the entire tournament. I could mention all of them but I'm afraid to leave someone out who played really well."

 

Sophomore middle hitter Melissa Brown, sophomore outside-middle hitter K.C. Cheshire and junior setter Jeni Paul represented the well-rounded team effort as selections to the all-tournament team.

 

The selections for Brown and Paul were just another for the pair achieved during the week. Earlier in the week, Brown was named NAIA National Player of the Week, along with the same honor for NAIA Region XIII and the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference. Paul was selected as the Setter of the Week for the GACC and Region XIII. (See related story.)

 

"Some girls just played their roles and were outstanding," Bryant added to his tournament analysis. "I can't say enough about the character that the girls showed."

 

Bryant also credited another supportive crowd, one of several that have cheered on the Lady Barons since they moved into the Student Activities Center on Oct. 1.

 

"They picked our girls up, and our girls had a heart check and character check and came through with flying colors," Bryant said. "The opposing coach told me, 'Your fans were unbelievable, and they're great.' "

 

After Brewton-Parker's tournament-opening win Friday night over Toccoa Falls -- a result of which Bryant said the Lady Eagles "proved later on that they were better than that" -- the Lady Barons then swept Trinity College of Jacksonville, Fla., 3-0.

 

On Saturday, Brewton-Parker completed the round-robin portion unbeaten after a 3-0 victory over Spelman College to set up a semifinal match against Trinity. Again, that pairing resulted in a 3-0 win for the Lady Barons. Toccoa Falls swept Spelman 3-0 in the other semifinal.

 

Earlier in the week, on Oct. 15, The Lady Barons saw their five-match winning streak snapped with a 3-2 loss to Georgia Southwestern State University in a GACC match in Americus.

 

"We played really well at times and really bad at times," Bryant said. "We won the first game and had to come back to do that, then we lost the second one and won the third and we thought things were going our way."

 

Bryant said the Lady Barons (1-3 in the GACC) came out sluggish in the fourth game and lost to force a fifth game, but he said the sluggishness continued into the deciding game that was won by Georgia Southwestern 15-12.

 

"We made way too many errors against a good team to beat them," Bryant said. "At the same time, to make that many errors ourselves and still be able to take Georgia Southwestern to five games is good. But we have to learn how to win those kind of matches."

 

The Lady Barons played at Wesleyan College in Macon on Tuesday looking to build on their current five-match winning streak and their school-record number of victories. Brewton-Parker then begins its second rotation through the GACC schedule Friday when the Lady Barons visit Southern Wesleyan University in Central, S.C., for a 7 p.m. match.

 

After playing Spelman again at the SAC on Monday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m., Brewton-Parker entertains Faulkner (Ala.) University in a conference match the following evening at 6:30.

 

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Members of the Brewton-Parker College volleyball team and Coach Jason Bryant (back at top) celebrate winning the championship of their own four-team invitational tournament Saturday at the Student Activites Center on the BPC campus in Mount Vernon.

(Photo by Charles Conkin)