Throwback Thursday: 2017 Volleyball

Covenant celebrates a point during the 2017 NCAA Tournament first round match vs. Birmingham Southern
Covenant celebrates a point during the 2017 NCAA Tournament first round match vs. Birmingham Southern (Photo credit: Jack Lewis)

By Emma Grimes / Athletic Communications Assistant

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The year 2017 brought us many things. We witnessed the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, when the New England Patriots rallied back to beat the Atlanta Falcons. We experienced the first total solar eclipse in nearly a century. 

But the year also brought many storms. 2017 had perhaps the strongest hurricane season the U.S. had ever experienced. No one was ready, though, for the storm that was about to break. There was a force that was about to hit Lookout Mountain: Covenant Volleyball.

The 2017 season for the Scots will go down in history as perhaps the best of all time. Finishing with a 25-8 overall record, the year was one for the record books. 

The regionally-ranked team was the first Covenant program to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament while going undefeated in the USA South (12-0) and at home (11-0).

The Scots won a program-record 17 in a row, finishing the last 24 matches of the season with 22 wins. On top of that, they were crowned the USA South West Division champions for the third year in a row and USA South Tournament champions for the second time in three years. Needless to say, the 2017 volleyball team was a storm to be reckoned with.

ROAD TO THE TOURNAMENT

The Patriots weren't the only ones with an amazing comeback in 2017. In fact, the Scots had several memorable victories, including some that came with exciting finishes. Perhaps one of the most impressive non-conference wins came against the No. 1 team in the region: Berry College. The visiting Vikings were smoked in three straight sets, handing them their first loss in 15 matches.

And the excitement didn't stop there. The Scots would go on to win the final 13 regular season matches entering postseason play.

After a comeback win in the USA South Tournament semifinals against William Peace, it all came down to the USA South Tournament championship match against top-seeded host Averett. After losing the first two sets, Covenant mounted perhaps one of the greatest comebacks in school history, winning the last three sets to clinch the title and punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

During that comeback, the 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.

Head coach Joanna Ehman described the match as a "nerve-wracking comeback." She continued: "My husband still says it's the most unbelievable athletic achievement he's ever seen in person."

NCAA TOURNAMENT

The Scots entered the tournament at the No. 6 seed with high hopes as they faced Birmingham Southern in the first round. Not to eclipse their previous comeback, Covenant rallied from yet another deficit to win in five sets.

The team had entered the fourth set down 2-1, but remained calm and collected. They continued their clutch play and won the set with an exciting 26-24 finish.

It all came down to the fifth set.

Similar to the rest of the back-and-forth match, it remained a close contest. But at a score of 14-13, the Scots sealed the victory with a massive kill from Jessica Seehorn to claim the first NCAA tournament win in school history.

The historic season ended the following day with a five-set loss to Berry, but that did not take away from the amazing season.

TOP PERFORMERS

Top performers included seniors Ginny Moore, Schuyler Moore, and Seehorn. Schuyler Moore earned All-America and All-Region honors while setting the program's career record for assists and breaking the single-season mark for aces with 71. Ginny Moore was also All-Region and gained her spot in the record books as Covenant's all-time kills leader. Seehorn racked up 253 kills (2.01 per set) on the season. 

Junior Hannah Harris also played a huge role on the team, including a career-high 17 kills in the match against Birmingham Southern. Sophomore Allie 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 grabbed three of the top seven all-time single-match records in the category during the year.

The program earned its first NCAA regional ranking as the Scots debuted at No. 8 in the first poll (Oct. 18) and climbed to No. 7 in the final three polls of the year. The 25 wins are tied for third-most in program history and marked the second time the program has achieved a .758 winning percentage.

Additionally, Ehman earned her 100th career win, giving her the best winning percentage in Covenant history.

"There were so many on the team that year who had been fighting for moments like that long before the 2017 season even started," said Ehman. "It was awesome to get to see those women experience achieving those things together."

A YEAR TO REMEMBER

Ehman credits the historic season to her players' drive, program's atmosphere, and Christ's sovereignty: 

"Those [wins] were a by-product of the commitment that everyone on our roster made to show up every day for the sake of the other players on the team‒to work hard for their sisters in Christ so that we could collectively enjoy the beauty of our sport," Ehman noted. "It's a great feeling to be able to step onto the court every game day and know that the Lord holds the outcome in His hands, so then we just get to rely on the hard work and dedication that's been put into our preparations."

The year was definitely one to remember.

CONNECT WITH THE SCOTS

Be sure to follow the Scots all season long on athletics.covenant.edu and on social media at FacebookTwitter and Instagram for up-to-date scores, news and other information. To receive e-newsletters, click here