LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- It was another historical season for the Covenant volleyball program. Coming off a record-breaking 2014 campaign, the Lady Scots again set program records and milestones in 2015.
Under third-year head coach, and USA South Coach of the Year, Joanna Ehman, Covenant won the South division of the USA South then went on to win the USA South Tournament to claim its first berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Lady Scots finished 19-13 overall with a 13-3 mark in the USA South, while several players earned recognition for their performances throughout the year.
Covenant started the year 1-6 as it faced tough competition in early tournaments. The Lady Scots rebounded in conference play and won 13 straight USA South matches at one point. The winning streak vaulted the Lady Scots into the top spot in the USA South's South division and earned them the right to host the conference tournament.
MATCH OF THE YEAR: Covenant 3, Maryville 1 (USA South Tournament Championship - Nov. 7, 2015)
The Lady Scots had several big matches throughout the year, but the obvious choice for Match of the Year has to be the USA South Tournament final against Maryville.
Covenant had finally notched a victory against the northern Scots earlier in the year, but the Lady Scots still faced a stiff challenge as Maryville came in as the two-time defending conference champion. The contest was a rematch of the 2014 final which Maryville took in four sets.
The first two sets were tightly played with Covenant taking the first game 26-24 before Maryville took the second by the identical 26-24 score.
In the third set, Covenant trailed 16-13 before rallying to take a 21-20 lead on a Chelsea VanDyk kill. The teams would go back-and-forth for several points, but the Lady Scots secured the final two points, one on a Maryville service error and the final one on a Ginny Moore ace, to take a 2-1 match lead.
In the fourth set, Covenant surged ahead 16-11 on a VanDyk ace and extended the lead to 23-16 after a Maryville error. After Maryville cut its deficit to 23-19, Covenant scored the final two points to earn the win. Schuyler Moore and VanDyk combined for a block on Rachel Kozemko's attack that sent the record crowd in Barnes PE Center into a frenzy as Covenant celebrated its conference championship.
Ginny Moore was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after accumulating 17 kills and 16 digs in the championship match. VanDyk was named to the All-Tournament team after recording 16 kills and five total blocks in the victory over Maryville. Schuyler Moore also earned a spot on the All-Tournament team with 45 assists, 11 digs and seven kills.
The conference tournament title was the first since 1979 for the program and Covenant and it's the first time on record that the Lady Scots have won a conference regular season and tournament title in the same year.
Check out the highlights from Covenant's 3-1 win over Maryville in the USA South Tournament championship.
As with most championship teams, Covenant featured several players that contributed significantly throughout the season.
Leading the way was senior Chelsea VanDyk. VanDyk became the first player in program history to earn All-American honors as she wrapped up her outstanding collegiate career. The senior averaged 3.08 kills per set with a .301 hitting percentage and 0.83 blocks per set. VanDyk had 12 matches in which she hit .400 or better, including hitting .722 with 13 kills in a sweep of Maryville on Oct. 13. In addition to being named to the AVCA All-America team, VanDyk earned first team All-USA South for a third straight year and was the USA South's Player of the Week on Sept. 28.
Sophomores Ginny Moore and Schuyler Moore continued to produce tremendous results in their second year.
Ginny Moore was a two-time USA South Player of the Week and earned first team All-USA South honors while leading the team with 3.85 kills per set and 4.11 digs per set. She had double-doubles in all three matches in the USA South Tournament and was named tournament MVP.
Schuyler Moore recorded 1,094 assists, including 57 in a five-set win over Piedmont, and was named USA South Player of the Week on Oct. 12. She also picked up first team All-USA South accolades and was named to the All-USA South Tournament team.
Freshman libero Ariana Buchanan stepped into her role quite well as she averaged 4.12 digs per set and was named USA South Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 28, 2015. Fellow newcomer Hannah Stewart came on late in the year after Buchanan suffered an injury and registered 30 digs in the USA South Tournament final. Senior defensive specialist Jaclyn Stuart played a key role as she had a career-high 242 digs on the year.
Up front, the Lady Scots received contributions from senior Hannah Rogers, junior Morgan Opgenorth, sophomore Jessica Seehorn and freshman Olivia Becker. Rogers finished her career with 91 kills and 42 total blocks. Opgenorth tallied 204 kills, with a season-high 17 coming at Piedmont, and 63 total blocks. Seehorn recorded 100 kills, while Becker had 67.
On the tough start to the season and rebounding from it:
"When we started off 1-6, it could have been easy for the team to lose motivation or hope for a successful season. It was a tough start, but that win-loss record didn't show the hard work that had already gone in up until that point.
We were determined to learn from those losses and not waste the opportunity to grow. The team stayed motivated to make their opportunities count, and it paid off in those big moments this season. Beating Maryville and Averett at home were huge boosts for us. Making the comeback at Piedmont was really important, too. We learned how to consistently fight hard and used that experience well in the conference tournament."
On the NCAA loss to Hendrix:
"It was tough to finish the season in a three-set match in the NCAA tournament, but Hendrix played well and deserved the win. It's another experience for us to learn from and now the challenge will be to perform better the next time we're in that position."
On team and individual honors earned:
"I was thrilled for our players who received postseason recognition, and all three of those girls [Chelsea VanDyk, Schuyler Moore, Ginny Moore] will give credit to their teammates for those awards as well. You can't get that recognition in volleyball without a great team to get you there, so that's a victory for our whole program.
The same goes for the Sportsmanship Award - that really attests to how hard this group worked to keep their priorities straight and steward the skills the Lord blessed each of them with."
On Chelsea VanDyk being named All-America:
"I was so thrilled when I found out about Chelsea's All-American recognition. She is such a gifted volleyball player and has done so much for this program in the past four years. It was a fitting way for her to end her college career- we are going to miss her and all of our seniors so much!"
IN THE RANKS:
3.85: Number of kills per set for Ginny Moore on the year which ranked her 44th in the country and second in the USA South. Moore's 1,515 total attacks was fifth in all of Division III.
1,094: Total number of assists for Schuyler Moore. That ranked 53rd in the national and third-best in the USA South.
18.45: Digs per set as a team for the year which was first in the USA South and 31st nationally.
.301: Chelsea VanDyk's hitting percentage for the year. That mark was 104th nationally and second in the conference. VanDyk ends her career as the program record holder in hitting percentage at .327.
Chelsea VanDyk - honorable mention
AVCA All-South Region
USA South Coach of the Year
USA South All-Conference
Ginny Moore - first team
Schuyler Moore - first team
Chelsea VanDyk - first team
USA South All-Sportsmanship
USA South All-Tournament
Ginny Moore - MVP
USA South Player of the Week
Ginny Moore - Sept. 21, Oct. 5
Chelsea VanDyk - Sept. 28
Schuyler Moore - Oct. 12
USA South Defensive Player of the Week
Ariana Buchanan - Sept. 28
USA South Sportsmanship Award
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