Lady Barons reach new heights as GACC volleyball runner-up

By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations

MOUNT VERNON -- While the Brewton-Parker College volleyball team's initial reaction to finishing second in the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference postseason tournament Saturday was disappointment, the plaque the Lady Barons received offered so much more in recognizing their weekend achievements.

Brewton-Parker, which served as host of the GACC's volleyball tourney for the first time, entered the seven-team tournament as the No. 4 seed and defeated the Nos. 1 and 3 seeds en route to qualifying for the championship match Saturday at the Student Activities Center.

Playing in their third match Saturday, after losing the championship semifinal to No. 2 seed Faulkner University (Ala.) and moving into the title round with a sweep of No. 3 seeded Southern Wesleyan University (S.C.), the Lady Barons had little left to challenge Faulkner again.

Considering that through its first six seasons of volleyball, Brewton-Parker had won as many as three GACC matches just one time -- during last season's 31-12 run -- and defeated top-seeded Georgia Southwestern State University for the first time Friday, Bryant was pleased with the Lady Barons' tournament result.

"A few years ago, nobody would have thought Faulkner would be playing Brewton-Parker for the championship," said Bryant, whose team was 7-5 in the GACC regular season. "I think our program is becoming one of the most respected programs in the conference."

The Lady Barons' conference tournament run began Thursday when they defeated No. 5 seed Shorter College in three straight games. "It was an ugly win but a win nevertheless," Bryant said. "We really had to beat Shorter because we wanted to be in the position to beat Southwestern."

Georgia Southwestern entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed after winning the regular-season championship. However, the Lady 'Canes were coming off their only conference loss, to Faulkner, four nights earlier in the GACC regular-season finale.

The Lady Barons opened the match by winning the first 10 points and took the first game 30-19.
Despite losing the second game 30-28 after rallying from a 29-22 deficit, Bryant saw encouraging effort from his team.

"Even in the game we lost, I think we made a statement there that we were not going away," he said. "Volleyball is a game that rides so much on momentum, but I just want my girls to play one point at a time and not let momentum take over."

Brewton-Parker forged ahead in the third game 9-2 and led 24-12 before taking a 2-1 lead with a 30-20 game win.

Southwestern took a 5-3 lead in the fourth game, but the Lady Barons won the next four points to take a lead it never relinquished and ended the match with a 10-4 run for a 30-23 game win and 3-1 match count.

"We played really well. If had had one go give, I would give a game ball to Nicole Behning (senior from Jacksonville, Fla.) for her back-row play. But it takes a team effort to beat somebody that good."

After receiving a pass into the championship semifinal match Saturday morning, Brewton-Parker battled Faulkner for three tough games but the Lady Eagles came out on top of each and thus relegated the Lady Barons into the elimination bracket.

"Every game was tight and we thought we had a chance to beat them, but they are so fast that anything we hit their way it seemed like they would dig it out," Bryant said.

Southern Wesleyan eliminated Georgia Southwestern (21-20) in the next match, leaving Brewton-Parker against the Lady Warriors (17-20) for a berth in the championship round.

"I told them in the locker room that we couldn't hold anything back against Southern Wesleyan," said Bryant, whose squad won three hard-fought games 30-22, 30-25 and 30-28. "The girls have gotten to where they are mentally tough, and we are playing really well."

Faulkner's extra rest and speed proved too much for the Lady Barons in the final, with the Lady Eagles (31-19) winning the first two games 30-18 and 30-17 before overcoming Brewton-Parker's early leads in the third to complete the match with a 30-22 win in Game 3.

"We were tired," Bryant said. "There was no gas left after we had to give it all in the Southern Wesleyan match."



Members of the Brewton-Parker College volleyball team and coaches surround the plaque they received by finishing as the runner-up in the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference tournament, which ran Thursday through Saturday at the Student Activities Center on the BPC campus in Mount Vernon. From left are: (front row) Shanti Cortese, Kendall Jackson, Nicole Behning, Debbie Sooter, Amanda San U, Elizabeth Hinely, (middle row) Mindy Cooper, Jeni Paul, Jaime Murrant, (back row) Assistant Coach Keith Wade, Latika Thomas, KC Cheshire, Jennifer Milburn, Chrissy Murphy, Jessica Ulin, Assistant Coach Michael Aoa and Head Coach Jason Bryant.