Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 20, 2013

Concord volleyball: New league, new chance

Lady Lions earn MEC tourney victory

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

ATHENS — For the first time in Kate Southcott’s five years as Concord University volleyball coach, the Lady Lions hosted a postseason tournament game.

They didn’t let the opportunity go to waste.

Concord, seeded seventh in the Mountain East Conference field, dispatched No. 10 seed Glenville State College three games to one Tuesday evening to move on to Thursday’s quarterfinal round.

“We had previously beaten Glenville as previously as last weekend,” Southcott said. “We played very, very well against them that night. So I think our expectations on this team was that this should be a win.

“But ... we talked yesterday in practice that no team just falls out of the tournament without a fight. We knew they would bring a fight. They have a couple of great hitters we tried to defend against.”

Senior middle hitter Jasmin Sutherland posted a double-double with 13 kills and a career-high 11 blocks and outside hitter Brytni Willis matched a personal-best with 17 kills for Concord (16-16).

Hard-hitting Dejana Ludoski finished her final match for Glenville State with 17 kills and 16 digs. Her left-handed spikes were a big threat to the Lady Lions.

Southcott said, “It’s hard to defend against a lefty out there. She’s a good player. She got her share of kills on us. ... I just think we had more of an offense than they did, eventually.”

Sutherland said, “She’s a lefty, so it was kind of hard to block her at first. Once we caught on, it was alright. We knew what we were supposed to do and we shut her down. That was the most important part of the game.”

Concord took a tight first set 26-24, then trailed for most of the second set. Glenville State took that one 25-19. The Lady Lions trailed 18-12 in the third set before rallying, with some key plays at the net by Lauren Richardson helping a 12-3 Concord splurge, to claim a 25-22 win.

Concord took control early in the final set and held off the Pioneers 25-21 to conclude the evening.

Sutherland said, “The thing we’ve struggled with this season was being consistent. That second game did make me nervous, but ... once our team gets it together, and we know what we have to do, we can dominate the court.”

Junior setters Amanda Walker and Nikki McMillan handed out 21 and 20 assists each. McMillan pulled out 11 digs and two aces. Walker had three aces. Libero Lindsey Smith provided a team-high 16 digs.

Middle hitter Sarah Jones had eight kills and six blocks, while Rebecca Lovejoy had six kills.

McMillan said, “We knew we were going to win. We knew we were going to beat Glenville, because it had happened twice before. We came in a little too confident, I think, this match.

“But the effort that we put in was unbelievable. We were down six points, and decided to come back and win that third set.”

“The third set, when we were neck and neck, we knew what we had to do. We knew we had to play hard and finish strong and trust each other and win that game.”

Southcott said, “We definitely had some struggles blocking in the first two sets, then we kind of turned it on. I think we were anxious, we were jumping up early. We just kind of had to calm down, settle in, wait for the hitter.”

“Overall, we knew what we needed to do. We just finally did it. We probably played our best service and defensive match to date, overall.”

Sutherland said, “I’m a senior now, and this is the first year we’ve been able to proceed to the next game. So I’m very excited. It’s all just going to come together this weekend.”

“We still know that momentum is the name of this game,” Southcott said. “Fairmont’s a big team. We can’t let them have the momentum.”

“I do think that anyone can win on Thursday. I think my kids believe that. They’ve just got to go out and play their best, and never look back after their mistakes.”

The team has played its last game of 2013 in the Carter Center, and Southcott was pleased with the support the community showed.

Southcott said, “I was pretty impressed with the crowd tonight. The sports teams kind of knew we were having a play-in match tonight, and they all support each another, but there was a lot of community out here tonight, so that was real nice.”

Concord plays second seed Fairmont State at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Wheeling Jesuit University, site of the rest of the inaugural MEC tournament.

— Contact Tom Bone at