Lady Barons earn first regional volleyball berth

By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations

MOUNT VERNON - In order to qualify for the NAIA Region XIII volleyball tournament, the Brewton-Parker College Lady Barons had to exceed the expectations of being the No. 4 seed in their conference tournament, have some luck go their way and hope their tournament runner-up finish was enough to impress three regional raters.

Two days after making the championship match of the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference postseason volleyball tournament for the first time and defeating the No. 1 seed along the way, Brewton-Parker received its first berth into NAIA regional play and national tournament qualifying.

The Lady Barons (25-17) learned Monday that they had claimed one of six spots in the NAIA Region XIII tournament Friday and Saturday in Mobile, Ala.

"I am elated but feel we deserve to be there, and somebody else feels that, too," said Lady Barons coach Jason Bryant, whose team will leave for the Region XIII tournament at noon Thursday from the Student Activities Center.

"The heart and character of this team is unbelievable. These girls are committed to this program and they just don't want to quit."

Brewton-Parker is the No. 5 seed and will be in pool play Friday against No. 1 seeded and regional host Spring Hill College (31-14) and No. 3 seeded Faulkner University (Ala.) (31-19), the only team to defeat the Lady Barons in the conference tournament.

Brewton-Parker plays Faulkner at 4 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday and Spring Hill at 8 p.m. The top two teams from each pool advance into single-elimination play beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, with the championship match set for 4 p.m.

The three teams in Pool B are No. 6 seed and GACC regular-season champion Georgia Southwestern State University (21-20) and two Louisiana schools, No. 2 seeded Dillard University (21-15) and No. 4 seed Loyola University (18-14).

After having to deal with some adverse conditions early in the year, including the season-ending injury of a starting hitter, the Lady Barons posted their first winning record in GACC play at 7-5 and defeated top-seeded Georgia Southwestern in the conference tournament to make the championship semifinals.

After losing to second-seeded Faulkner in that round, Brewton-Parker defeated No. 3 seed Southern Wesleyan University (S.C.) in three hard-fought games but had little left to challenge Faulkner in the championship match.

"We don't have to match a team man-for-man on the court, but we work harder than anybody we play," Bryant said. "Though we never dominated anybody, it took all the scratching and clawing to finish as the runner-up in this very competitive conference."