Spring Hill College’s beach volleyball program is celebrating a national runner-up finish in last weekend’s American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division II Small College National Championships.
The Lady Badgers brought a No. 2 seeding into the event, played in Tavares, Florida, and rattled off five wins before dropping a three-game match to the University of Tampa Spartans in the championship.
Twelve teams competed in the championship tournament. Along with SHC and Tampa, participants included: Palm Beach Atlantic, Texas A&M Kingsville, Saint Leo, Colorado Mesa, Carson Newman, Tampa #2, Wayne State, Florida Southern, Tusculum and Catawba.
“This means the world to me because the girls have been through so much just to even have a season,” said SHC beach volleyball coach Amanda Jones. “They have fought through transition, illness, and an insane pandemic to get to this history marking place. I’m so proud to coach them!”
According to the SHC office of sports information, the runner-up finish marks the best showing for SHC in its third appearance at the National Championships. Previously, the Badgers had finished third in 2018 and 2019 with the 2020 event canceled due the NCAA Novel Coronavirus Pandemic Shutdown.
This appearance is just the second time any SHC sport has reached a team National Championship Finals with the Badger softball team reaching the NAIA National Championship game in 2013.
The Badgers reached the title game by sweeping through pool play on Friday and Saturday with a 3-0 mark and then winning a heart-pounding 3-2 decision in a tie-breaker challenge match versus rivals the Texas A&M-Kingsville (TAMK) Javalinas on Saturday evening to secure a bye in the first round of bracket play. In the semifinals, SHC defeated the Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBAU) Sailfish 3-2 in another barn-burner finish.
The Badgers finished the season with a record of 18-9, surpassed only by their 20-11 mark in 2019.
After the tournament, the SHC No. 1 Court pair of Kassandra Fairly and Payton Gidney were named to the 2021 AVCA Division II All-America team.
Other members of the squad, according to SHC Athletics website, include: Kyla Shappell, Allison Weimer, Leanne Sorrel, Mary Coye Ward, Brooke Borgmeyer, Ryann Horkavy, Courtney Faulkner, Linnea Beger, Grace Harris, Patty Blood, Natalie Bonner, Valerie Vujnovich, Briley Jane Becker, Sarah Senft, Mikayla Boyer, Calina Corthell, Jessica Fairly, Prisca Garner, Lily Mascari, Kristen Mitternight, Olivia Peyton, Anna Marie Stevens, Natalie Sullivana and Emily Weinzapfel.
Jones is SHC’s head beach volleyball coach, and Peggy Martin is the school’s director of volleyball.