ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The NAIA announced the pairings for the women’s volleyball National Championship Opening Round on Monday, finalizing the postseason picture for teams across the country. At noon, Missouri Baptist found out that it will face Spring Hill College on Saturday in the Carl and Deloris Petty Sports and Recreation Complex. Both schools earned their spot after 30-plus win seasons.
SCOUTING SPRING HILL
Spring Hill (30-6) enters the NAIA Opening Round after a strong run in the Southern States Athletic Conference. The Badgers made it to the championship game after a win over the College of Coastal Georgia, setting-up one of the best conference championship matches in the NAIA against No. 9, Lee University.
The Badgers gave the Lee University Flames all they could handle, winning the first set 32-30 before dropping the next two, 14-25 and 19-25. Spring Hill rebounded in the fourth set, winning 25-23 to force a tiebreak set. Lee went on to win the final frame 15-12, sending their opponent back to Alabama in hopes of an at-large bid to the tournament.
Spring Hill is led this season by 5’10” middle blocker Sha Sha Buchanan. The Mobile, Ala., native leads her team with an average of 3.3 kills per set. Against Lee, she had 19 kills and a .375 attack percentage.
Also of note for the Badgers is Taryn Nash. The setter from Independence, Mo. averages 10.3 assists per set, ranking her 23rd in the NAIA in assists per set.
SCOUTING MISSOURI BAPTIST
Missouri Baptist (33-3) is the No. 17-ranked team in the NAIA, down four spots after a loss to Park University in the American Midwest Conference Semifinals. The Spartans had the top record in the NAIA for several weeks, thanks to a 22-0 start, which set a new Missouri Baptist win-streak record.
MBU lost just two matches in the regular season, both of which were to AMC rival and NAIA No. 3 Columbia College. Heading into the conference tournament, MBU had won all of its conference games including three, five-set affairs (two with Park University and one with William Woods).
Missouri Baptist defeated Lyon College to head to the semifinal match against Park. The Pirates beat the Spartans in straight sets, just the second team to beat MBU on the year. The loss caused the team’s fate to be in the hands of the NAIA raters, which selected them as the sixth at-large bid.
Leading the Spartans in 2012 is freshman Ally Krus. The setter from St. Louis, Mo. has been consistently one of the top at her position in the NAIA this year. She currently ranks seventh in the NAIA in assists per game (11.1) and was selected as the NAIA National Player of the Week on Oct. 16.
Along with Krus will be a strong offense powered by junior Maddy Hammack and freshman Hannah Carey. Hammack ranks 12th in the NAIA in kills per game and first in the conference in the category. Carey is one of the NAIA’s leading servers, ranking fifth in the nation in service aces per game.
First serve is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at the Carl and Deloris Petty Sports and Recreation Complex on the campus of Missouri Baptist University.