Written and Media by Nathan Craig
We are the champions rang true for the Greenville College women’s volleyball team Saturday, November 5 as they defeated Westminster College and won the 2016 women’s volleyball SLIAC Tournament. With this win, the Lady Panthers are back to back SLIAC tournament champions and are going on to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. Head coach Tom Ackerman believes that his girls are ready for whatever the tournament brings,
We’ve met or exceeded every goal we set this year. Our final goal is to win the first round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. I am confident in this team. We are focused and can’t wait to see who we play.”
This road to success wasn’t handed to the Lady Panthers. They spent long hours working hard for it during the regular season.
GC traveled to Fulton, Mo. Wednesday, November 2. They took on the Westminster College Blue Jays. The winner of this game determines who hosts the SLIAC tournament. This game was difficult for the Lady Panthers but they never gave up because they were determined to host the tournament.
Greenville came out on fire and won the first set, 25-21, after capitalizing on Westminster’s 10 errors. The second set was also successful for GC as they took it 25-21 with 11 kills. However, Westminster made a comeback early in the third set. They had 15 kills and won the third set 25-18. They continued the momentum into the fourth set and capitalized on Greenville’s eight errors. With a score of 25-16, they won the set.
It was down to the fifth and final set.
Determined, Greenville came out hot with eight kills and took home the win with a final score of 15-12. Greenville junior, Allyson Mitchell, led the attack with 14 kills and senior, Kirsten Laune, with 39 assists. Senior Janisha Pealer had 16 digs and junior, Brittni Bell, had four blocks. GC was ready to host the tournament!
Saturday, November 5, Westminster College, Spalding University, Webster University, and Greenville College, prepared for the women’s volleyball SLIAC tournament in HJ long gymnasium. Greenville competed against Webster University in the first round. After a long four-set game, Greenville came out victorious, 3-1, and advanced to the championship game against Westminster. Seniors Savannah Sells and Laune led the team with 14 kills and 46 assists. Laune kept Greenville in the game on defense with 17 digs and Bell with five blocks.
The first set, Greenville won 25-17. They capitalized on Westminster’s 15 errors. Greenville continued in aggression with 18 kills and won set two, 25-19. The momentum carried into the third set as GC registered an attacking percentage of .346. This accumulated in their set three win a score of 25-16, which resulted in a GC sweep.
Assistant coach, Ivan Estevez, is very proud of the work the Lady Panthers put into the volleyball program,
Our team is very happy after winning the conference for the seventh straight year and having the opportunity to host again. We play very well at home and these girls feed from the energy of the crowd. It feels awesome to win the tournament and go back to the NCAA Division III tournament!”
The championship trophy is not all GC has to celebrate. Pealer and Ruffner were both named to the All-Tournament team and Laune was named tournament MVP.
With this win, the Lady Panthers are in preparation for their first game in the NCAA tournament. The team will head to Whitewater, Wis., to play 11th seed. Keep up with the GC women’s volleyball and follow them on twitter! @gcwvolleyball.