Berry Collge swept Centre, 3-0, and defeated Maryville, 3-2, at the Cage Center on Friday night. With its sixth straight win, the Vikings improved to 14-3 this season.
The Vikings avenged its lone SAA defeat after its sweep of Centre by scores of 25-17, 25-13 and 25-15. Berry improved to 7-1 in conference play and Centre dropped to 7-12 and 5-3.
BC hit .307 as a team and held the Colonels to a hitting percentage of .056. Junior Sarah Steffan notched a match-best eight kills for the home team. Fellow junior Stephanie Quinn dished 32 assists and senior Jennifer Tinnell collected 10 digs.
"We definitely wanted revenge because last time we played them we didn't play our best," said sophomore Kelsey Lochstampfor. "Playing them on our home court, we knew had to defend it. It was a great match for us."
"I think the biggest difference is that we came out ready serve and pass well," said Berry Head Coach Mika Robinson, about what changed between the team's first matchup with Centre in September and this evening.
Quinn passed out a match-high 60 assists while Tinnell notched 25 digs to lead both teams in a five-set marathon against Maryville. Berry's Lochstampfor totaled 13 kills and 16 digs. For Maryville Kara Strickland had 14 kills and 21 digs while Kristen Sharp racked up 15 kills and 11 digs.
Shortly after its match against Centre, Berry had a 7 p.m. meeting with the Scots. The first set saw Maryville lead throughout on its way to the win, 25-21. After falling behind 0-5 in the early going of set two, Berry steadily worked itself back into the game and claimed the set, 25-19.
Set three saw Berry trailing yet again, and this time it was unable to mount a sufficient rally as it fell, 25-20. Needing to win the set to stay alive, Berry emerged on top, 25-21, forcing a decisive fifth set. In an intense conclusion to the action, Berry won out, 15-11.
"You have to credit Maryville for the incredible blocking they were doing, and also their style of offense is one that we don't normally see," Robinson said. "It's quite frustrating. They use a lot of finesse shots and ball placement so we had to make some adjustments defensively to handle that. And offensively we had to be a little patient than we normally are."
"That was crazy," said Lochstampfor of the second match. "It wasn't our prettiest play ever, but we held it together and played as a unit. There's no way we could've stuck it out in those five sets if we hadn't played as a team."
The Vikings host Sewanee at 4 p.m. on Saturday in The Cage Center.
Keyed by two goals in the second half, Berry snapped a three-game losing streak and earned its first-ever Southern Athletic Association conference victory as it bested Rhodes, 2-0, on a Friday afternoon at Ford Field.
Sophomore Christian Fulbright scored his fifth goal of the season early in the second half, and senior Leo Gutierrez netted his first score of 2012 later in the period.
Freshman goalkeeper Logan Hill earned the victory for Berry, making three saves on the day. His Rhodes counterpart, Riley Sheen, was tagged with the loss after stopping four shots.
Berry improves its record to 8-3 and 1-1 in SAA play while Rhodes dropped to 3-6-1 and 0-2.
Fulbright put Berry on the board when he capitalized on a pass from senior Kartee Johnson at 51:29.
"Christian's goal was a very, nice goal. It was a good move in a one-on-one play by Kartee, and then he played a really nice pass to Christian who was moving in the right place at the right time," said Berry Head Coach Richard Vardy. "It was a good shot. He hit it hard and hit it early. We needed it because we weren't clicking like we'd like to today."
Deep in that same half, Gutierrez notched another goal on a penalty kick at 84:48.
"There was a bit of a scramble in the box, and one of the players got frustrated and just kicked out at David Shaw. It was a definite penalty kick," Vardy said. "And then Leo had a composed kick. It's nice for Leo to get himself a goal."
When asked about the significance of the program's first SAA win, Vardy maintained that the team needed to remain focused on improving its play.
"It's a good start in terms of results. We're happy to get a win in the conference, but we need to play better than this. And we've played better than this," said Vardy about this particular performance. "We just didn't play up to our potential today. As much as we loved the first conference win, we want to play better than how we played today."
Berry will return to action at Ford Field on Sunday afternoon against SAA opponent Hendrix College at 2 p.m.
"It's a bit of an unknown because we haven't played Hendrix before. It should be a pretty physical, direct style of game," Vardy said. "Hopefully we'll adapt to that and still be able to play our style of soccer."