Lady Barons take winning GACC mark into tourney

MOUNT VERNON -- With their position set for this weekend's Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference postseason volleyball tournament, the Brewton-Parker College Lady Barons still had plenty at stake in their conference finale Saturday against Southern Wesleyan University (S.C.) at the Student Activities Center.

The Lady Barons, who will play host to the GACC tournament beginning Thursday, avenged an earlier loss to the Lady Warriors with a 3-0 sweep and thus clinched Brewton-Parker's first conference winning record at 7-5.

"We had already clinched at least a .500 record in the conference, which was the first time we've done that well," said Lady Barons coach Jason Bryant, referring to the Lady Barons' 3-0 win Friday night over Reinhardt College. "The next day, we desired to finish over .500, and 7-5 in this conference is pretty good.

"Our blocking was the best we had all season, and the passing of back-row players Amanda San U (junior defensive specialist from Watkinsville), Debbie Sooter (freshman defensive specialist from Meridian, Idaho), Nicole Behning (senior defensive specialist from Jacksonville, Fla.) and Kendra Jackson (freshman outside hitter from Dalton) was as good as it has been all year."

Junior middle hitter KC Cheshire of Marietta had 15 kills in the match, which Brewton-Parker won 30-27, 30-16, 30-28 in avenging a 3-1 loss to Southern Wesleyan (8-4 GACC, 14-18 overall) on Sept. 20.

The win over Reinhardt (0-12, 2-22) came in a match played at Parker Gymnasium because of the basketball teams' Tip-Off Classic in the SAC.

The Lady Barons roared through the Lady Eagles, 30-11, 30-8, 30-7. "We played probably the best I have seen in the five years I have been here," Bryant said.

Junior outside hitter Latika Thomas of Gainesville, Fla., had 21 kills in the victory.

Brewton-Parker began last week at GACC regular-season champion Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus with a 3-0 loss that was much closer than a sweep might lead one to assume otherwise.

The first game was tied at 28 before the Lady 'Canes won the last two points, and the Lady Barons led the second game 29-28 and held one-point advantages through 36-35 before GSWSU won that game 39-37 and the finale 30-19.

"We didn't get back up after losing that second one," Bryant said. "We didn't finish well, but we played well enough to send a message that we're not going away."

The Lady Barons finished regular-season play Monday night with a 3-1 loss to Berry College in a non-conference match in Rome. They finished the regular season 22-15 overall.

Brewton-Parker is the No. 4 seed in the seven-team GACC tournament and plays No. 5 seed Shorter College (4-8, 7-16) in the opening match Thursday at 1 p.m. One other match will be played Thursday, with No. 3 Southern Wesleyan against No. 6 Brenau University (2-10, 5-18) at 3 p.m.

First-round action concludes Friday morning at 9 with No. 7 seed Reinhardt College (0-12, 2-22) against No. 2 Faulkner University (Ala.), which is 10-2 (27-19 overall) after giving top-seeded Georgia Southwestern (11-1, 20-18) its first conference loss Monday night.

The winner between Brewton-Parker and Shorter meets Georgia Southwestern at 11 a.m. Friday, with the other winners' bracket match at 1 p.m.

The rest of Friday's schedule consists of three elimination matches, and Saturday's schedule begins with the winners' bracket final at 10 a.m. followed by two losers' bracket matches. The championship match is scheduled for 4 p.m., with a second final at 6 p.m. if necessary.

"Right now, our objective is Shorter," Bryant said. "My girls have to be focused about one point at a time."

-BPC-

Brewton-Parker College senior setter Jeni Paul (No. 8) of Woodstock sets the ball for attack by junior middle hitter KC Cheshire (13) of Marietta or junior hitter Shanti Cortese of Tarpon Springs, Fla., with senior middle hitter Mindy Cooper of Lynchburg, Va., watching from the back side during the Lady Barons' match against Southern Wesleyan University at the Student Activities Center in Mount Vernon. (Photo by Josh Niswonger)