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Milligan notes: Pivotal week happening in land of the Buffaloes

Daniel Manget • Oct 30, 2018 at 5:13 PM

This is one of the most important weeks of the year for Milligan College athletics. Between basketball season starting up and volleyball, soccer and cross country seasons nearing their end, much is happening over the next several days.

With much happening, much is also at stake. Milligan volleyball looks to continue its stretch of 13 straight wins in the final week of the regular season, women’s soccer hosts an Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament matchup, men’s soccer hits the road for AAC tournament action and the nationally ranked cross country teams head to the AAC Championships.

All this, plus men’s and women’s basketball play their home openers.

VOLLEYBALL UP TO 13 STRAIGHT WINS

The last time Milligan’s volleyball team lost was over a month ago. It came at the hands of AAC frontrunner Reinhardt University, but since then the Buffaloes have been on a tear. They have posted 10 sweeps and lost only three sets while hardly being challenged in the last 13 matches.

Senior libero Alyssa Rupert continues to lead the conference and NAIA in digs per set with a 7.3 average. Junior setter Kellee Geren is the conference leader in assists per set with 9.7.

Milligan plays two more times in the regular season before heading to the AAC tournament in Kingsport Nov. 8-10. The regular season finale will be this Thursday when the Buffs host Union College at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.

WOMEN’S SOCCER HOSTS POINT IN AAC TOURNEY

One of the most thrilling wins of the season secured Milligan fourth place in the AAC and the right to host a quarterfinal game this week in the conference tournament. Trailing by two with less than 30 minutes left and by one with less than eight minutes remaining in their regular season finale, the Buffaloes pulled off a tremendous come-from-behind effort Monday night to defeat Columbia College, 3-2.

The win was Milligan’s fourth straight and sixth in the last seven games, and the Buffs will look to continue their run of success when they host Point University Friday at 5 p.m. on Anglin Field. They are three wins away from a trip to the national tournament.

MEN’S SOCCER TRAVELS TO POINT FOR AAC TOURNEY

Like the women, Milligan has been tough late in the season on the men’s side. The Buffs have won two of their last three — one of which qualified them for the AAC tournament — and will travel to Point University for their quarterfinal matchup Friday at 6 p.m.

NATIONALLY RANKED BUFFS SET FOR AAC CHAMPIONSHIPS

Coming off top-six team finishes at the Sand Shark Invitational its last time out, along with national rankings in the latest NAIA coaches’ polls, Milligan cross country continues to look strong. That strength will be put to the test this weekend, as the women aim to defend their 2017 title while the men look to repeat their 2016 crown when they travel to Waleska, Georgia, for the AAC Cross Country Championships.

“This weekend will definitely set the table for the national meet as it relates to who goes out of the AAC,” head coach Chris Layne said. “Our conference is now deep enough on both sides that we get two bids, but the teams in those runner-up spots must rank inside the top 30 nationally in the final poll.”

Milligan ranks No. 15 in the national poll on the women’s side and is receiving votes, three spots out of the top 25, on the men’s side. At Sand Shark two weeks ago, Jacquelyn Crow led the women with a ninth-place finish while Alex Mortimer led the men with a 16th-place finish.

MEN’S BASKETBALL OFF AND ROLLING; WOMEN START THIS WEEK

While fall seasons are at their peak, basketball season is just getting under way. The men are one game into the season, having lost at NAIA Division I No. 16 Cumberland University, 63-58, last week, and will host Johnson University in their home opener Thursday night at 8 p.m., following volleyball.

The women begin their season this week with an exhibition game Saturday at Tusculum University and will have their home opener next Monday, Nov. 5, in a women’s and men’s doubleheader beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Steve Lacy Fieldhouse.

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