LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The 2017 Covenant volleyball team will go down in program history as one of the best. With a bevy of experienced returners, including three seniors, the squad began the season with high expectations and delivered time again throughout the year.
After starting the year 3-6 overall, Covenant won 22 of its final 24 matches including a program record 17 straight. In the process, the Lady Scots captured a third straight USA South West Division title, were regionally-ranked by the NCAA for the first time in program history, won the USA South Tournament championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
All of this was accomplished while also finishing with a 25-8 overall record, matching a program record for highest winning percentage (.758), going 12-0 in the USA South and producing the program's first unbeaten record at home (11-0).
Senior setter Schuyler Moore became the second player in program history to earn All-America honors as she was selected to the honorable mention team. Moore averaged 8.77 assists, 3.10 digs, and 1.15 kills per set and set multiple career and single-season records during the year.
It was truly a season to remember.
MATCHES OF THE YEAR:
It is impossible to trim down the list of tremendous wins and fantastic finishes to just a single match. Therefore, instead, we will look at some of the key regular season and early postseason contests that help set the stage for what was to come in the NCAA Tournament.
The biggest win of the regular season came in a non-conference match with Berry at home on Oct. 18. Facing a Berry team that was ranked No. 1 in the region earlier in the day, Covenant took it right to the visiting Vikings. The Lady Scots took the first two sets by the smallest margin possible before building a big lead in the third and securing a match sweep.
The win over Berry extended Covenant's winning streak at the time to eight, while snapping Berry's streak of 15 straight victories.
Covenant used the momentum from the Berry win and cruised through the rest of the regular season, dropping just two sets over the final five matches, before heading into the USA South Tournament.
With the division crown, Covenant was once again a No. 1 seed in the USA South Tournament. After defeating Huntingdon in the quarterfinals, the Lady Scots took down William Peace in the semifinals before facing top overall seed, and host, Averett for the championship.
It was in the USA South Tournament title match with Averett that this team began its lasting legacy. Covenant fell behind 2-0 in the match, but then put together one of the best comebacks ever in program history. The Lady Scots staved off two Averett match points in the fourth set to win in extra points and then dominated the fifth set to capture the USA South crown for a second time in three years.
Getting the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament was just the tip of the iceberg for the team, however. Covenant was the No. 6 seed, its highest seed in a NCAA Tournament, in the Atlanta regional and faced Birmingham Southern in the first round.
After taking the first set, Covenant fell behind 2-1 in the match before mounting yet another comeback. The Lady Scots won the fourth in extra points and then took the fifth set, 15-13, on a Seehorn kill giving the Lady Scots the five-set victory. It was the first time any Covenant program had won a NCAA Tournament game.
Hannah Harris produced a then-career-high 17 kills in the win and Schuyler Moore had 40 assists, 18 digs, seven kills and five block assists. Seehorn had 10 kills and 19 digs, while Hannah Stewart had 23 digs. Allie Jakes was a force in the middle with nine combined blocks.
In the second round, Covenant had to meet Berry for a second time during the year. The Lady Scots controlled the match through the first two sets to build a 2-0 lead. However, Berry made the adjustments and rallied back to take the match in five sets ending Covenant's season.
For her play at the tournament, Schuyler Moore earned a spot on the All-Atlanta Regional team after averaging 7.70 assists, 1.20 kills, 3.10 digs, and 0.60 blocks per set.
During the Maryville match at home on Sept. 20, a wild play occurred with an attack attempt from Hannah Harris going off a Maryville defender and through the basketball net. The crazy play was featured on official NCAA Volleyball and NCAA Division III Twitter accounts, gaining thousands of views in the process. It was also featured in a story on NCAA.com. The clip finally made its way all the way to Bristol, Conn., and ESPN.
The clip was No. 10 on the Worldwide Leader's Top Plays for Sept. 22.
RECORDS AND MILESTONES:
It was a season filled with records and milestones as well, for both individuals and the program.
- Head coach Joanna Ehman reached her 100th career coaching victory with a 3-0 win over Piedmont on Oct. 14. Ehman has compiled 111 wins in five years, 13 shy of the program record, and her current winning percentage of .668 is the best in the program's history.
- Ginny Moore became the all-time kills leader in program history. The senior produced her 1,541st career kill against Berry in the NCAA Tournament and finished her career with a new record of 1,546 kills.
- Schuyler Moore broke the program's career assists record early in the year and set the mark at 3,830. Moore also broke the career and single-season service aces records. The senior ended her career with 211 aces, breaking Ehman's career mark, and set the single-season record at 71.
- The Moore twins also earned All-USA South honors for a fourth straight year. The duo was voted to the All-USA South first team for a third straight year after collecting All-USA South West Division first team accolades for a second straight season.
- Sophomore Allie Jakes had quite the year at her spot in the middle. Jakes set a single-season program record with 96 block assists. She also set single-match record for combined blocks with 10 against Chapman on Sept. 9, and holds three of the top seven all-time single-match records in the category.
- The 25 wins are tied for third-most in program history and marked the second time the program has achieved a .758 winning percentage. The USA South divisional title was the third consecutive regular season championship, and the fourth in the last six seasons.
- The program also earned its first NCAA regional ranking. The Lady Scots debuted at No. 8 in the first poll (Oct. 18) and climbed to No. 7 in the final three polls of the year.
Assists per set:
Schuyler Moore (8.99)... 28th in Division III in total assists with 1,105
Schuyler Moore - honorable mention
USA South All-Sportsmanship
NCAA Tournament All-Atlanta Regional
USA South Defensive Player of the Week
Emily Moore - Oct. 23
USA South Team Sportsmanship Award
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