The Buffs fought off three match points while roaring back to score the final five points of their match against Bluefield on Tuesday night to vanquish the Rams 25-19, 25-21, 23-25, 22-25, 16-14 at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse. With the win, the league-leading Buffs moved to 11-2 in AAC play and improved their home record to 12-1.
The ability to defend your home court is the hallmark of a great team, as is having a nucleus of star players who step up when their team needs them the most. On Tuesday, Milligan’s stars did just that. Samantha Bruinius set a new career high with 27 kills while Kellee Geren dished out a career-high 56 assists and Marissa Langford recorded the 1,000th kill of her career.
“I was extremely proud of our fight and our will to win,” Milligan coach Doneva Bays said. “It was a well-fought match and proof of how competitive our conference is.”
Indeed, Bluefield (14-12, 4-9) came in with a losing record in conference play. But after dropping the first two games, the Rams were able to rally to win the next two in order to force the decisive fifth set.
Momentum is a hot commodity in the sport of volleyball, and Bluefield had all the momentum heading into the fifth game. But after the Rams jumped out to a 14-11 lead, Milligan found a way to stem the tide in the nick of time.
The Buffs will play two more home matches this week as AAC foes Reinhardt and St. Andrews roll into town on Saturday for an AAC trimatch.
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If the Milligan cross country program is going to contend in the NAIA National Meet come November, the Buffs will need plenty of quality depth.
On the women’s side, Hannah Segrave already has two victories under her belt, the second coming last Saturday at the Gene Martin Invitational in Greenville, South Carolina. But Segrave was joined in the top 10 by teammates JJ Robinson, Sarah Kate Gartman and Amber Grello, which powered the Buffs to a second-place finish behind host school Furman in the team competition.
It was Grello’s first event of the year, and with Katlyn Haas prepared to compete in the upcoming Sandshark Invitational on Oct. 22, Milligan coach Chris Layne is pleased with the way the women’s team is shaping up.
“We’ll need both of these women to step up come November,” Layne said. “Sarah Kate continues to run well and we’ll just need to focus on keeping our gaps down at 3-4-5.”
As for the men, the Buffs put seven runners in the top 10 to score their second victory in a row. Taylor Tafelsky picked up his first individual win of the season while Brandon Ellis, Mitch Bronstetter, Eric Shull, Sam Wehner, Carson Kilby and Peter Mermilliod all had strong runs.
“We always want to pick up the win, and that’s two in a row for the guys,” Layne said. “They were about where I expected them to be on this course and we should freshen up as we head towards the Sandshark.”
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Montreat put its offensive firepower on full display on Tuesday night against the men’s soccer team. The Cavaliers rolled to a 7-1 AAC road win as the Buffs struggled to generate and capitalize on their offensive opportunities.
Defensively, the Buffs played pretty well in the first half. Francisco Prado put the Cavs up 1-0 early, but Milligan only trailed 2-0 at the half. The Buffs had six shots on goal in the first half, but came away with nothing to show for it.
Milligan’s defensive prowess continued well into the second half before Montreat doubled its lead with goals in the 75th and 81st minutes. The Buffs finally answered when Jesse Ramoya scored in the 83rd minute, but the Cavs scored three goals in the final seven minutes to pull away.
The Buffs are now 4-8 and 1-5 in league play. They’ll be back in action at home on Saturday against St. Andrews with play set to start at 1 p.m.