Team-first attitude has Lady Buffs off to hot start

Dave Ongie • Updated Sep 15, 2016 at 6:29 PM

After sweeping Truett-McConnell University on Tuesday night at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse, it’s pretty clear that Milligan’s volleyball team has developed a winning formula.

The Buffs are 12-3 on the season, unbeaten in Appalachian Athletic Conference play and undefeated at home. As for the secret to her team’s success, Milligan coach Doneva Bays credits a team-first approach.

“I have a really strong group of individuals who are very team-oriented,” Bays said. “In past years, I’ve had a lot of talent, but sometimes it’s not been about the team. It’s been about individual successes. This year, I feel like everyone is putting the team first, and we’re getting team success. Therefore, we’re getting individual success as well.”

Individual success hasn’t been hard to find for the Buffs. They swept the AAC weekly awards last week with Grace Ann Moorhouse being named the defensive player of the week, Kellee Geren earning setter of the week and Marissa Langford taking home attacker of the week honors.

Moorhouse and Samantha Bruinius also hit major career milestones over the past week. Moorhouse recorded her 1,000th dig while Brunius notched her 1,000th kill. Both were honored before Milligan’s sweep of Truett-McConnell on Tuesday.

The Buffs now face a crucial stretch with six straight matches on the road over the course of the next two weeks.

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The women’s golf team has been living up to expectations so far, scoring a pair of top-three finishes to start the season.

The Buffs, who are ranked 14th in the nation, started the year with a third-place finish at the Lynn Schweizer Invitational in Ohio and followed that up with a runner-up result in the weather-shortened Jekyll Island Invitational in Georgia. Cassidy Gibson has led the way so far, earning all-tournament honors in each of the first two events.

Milligan coach Tony Wallingford said Megan Gaylor, Ann Sullivan and Sarah Son have also put together some quality tournament rounds along with Michaela Matheson and Nellie Berglund. Wallingford added that he felt like his team was on the verge of a breakthrough during the final round of the Jekyll Island tournament before weather washed out the remainder of the event with his team out on the back nine.

“After landing in second place after round one, the girls turned it up in the second round and played the first round at 5-over par as a team before the storms hit,” Wallingford said. “Our challenge is to improve and be playing our best golf at the end of the fall season.”

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As for the men’s golf team, a young squad is working hard to improve throughout the fall season.

The Buffs took two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior to their first event in Sea Island, Georgia. Senior Josh Gambrell is the cornerstone of the team after earning second-team, All-AAC honors last season.

Sophomores Cody Carlson and Nick Sewell will both be relied upon heavily after putting together impressive freshman seasons.

Both the men and women will be back in action on Sept. 26 at the Tusculum Invitational in Greeneville.

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