BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Finishing the regular season 21-6 with an 11-3 Southern Athletic Association record, the Birmingham-Southern women's volleyball team heads into the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed. The Panthers will take on seventh seeded Oglethorpe University in the quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m.
This is the first time the two programs have met in the quarterfinals. Their last SAA tournament meeting was in the 2013 consolation match and the Panthers won 3-0.
The 2016 tournament is being hosted by regular season champion No. 24 Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. It features all eight SAA teams and continues on Saturday, Nov. 5 with the semifinal matches at noon and 2:30 p.m. The championship will start at noon on Sunday, Nov. 6.
BSC, who has appeared in the last two conference championship matches, heads into this tournament with momentum after a good showing in Texas. The Panthers have won 11 of their last 14 matches, eight in straight sweeps.
They are currently being led offensively by Jeneva Salter (Madison, Ala./Bob Jones HS), Marjorie Ward (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park HS), and Rebecca Erwin (Duluth, Ga./Duluth HS). The trio are averaging over two kills per set, with Salter ahead at a league-best 3.22 kills per set.
Ward, along with Rachel Lee (Montgomery, Ala./The Montgomery Academy) will run the Panthers 6-2 offense. Lee has a team-high 534 assists on the year and Ward has 366, respectively. Lee also leads the league in service aces with 36.
Defensively, Birmingham-Southern will look to libero Caroline Johnson (Lucas, Texas/Lovejoy HS) to anchor the back line. She leads the league in digs per set against SAA opponents and has 521 digs on the year, averaging 5.54 per set. Laura Van Peursem (Huntsville, Ala./The Randolph School) will pace the defense at the net. She has a team-high 84 digs this season, which ranks her sixth in the league.
BSC has swept Oglethorpe (11-8, 3-11 SAA) both times they've played this season. In their first meeting back on October 22, Erwin finished one dig away from a double-double as the Panthers held Oglethorpe to a 0.640 team hitting percentage in Bill Battle Coliseum.
When the teams met again in Atlanta, BSC held the Stormy Petrels to a 0.640 hitting percentage again. Everyone on the roster contributed to the win by scoring at least one point.
Fans can follow the action on the official tournament page here.