JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Jan. 4, 2012) – A preseason tournament title, an upset of the eventual conference champion and a return trip to the Atlantic Sun Championship semifinals highlighted another strong campaign for the ETSU volleyball program in 2011.
The Bucs advanced to the Atlantic Sun Championship semifinals for the second straight season and earned their seventh straight season of 10 or more wins. The Bucs finished the season with a 15-16 overall record and a solid 7-6 mark in the A-Sun. All of that despite having one of the youngest teams in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bucs featured seven freshmen on the squad – the most of any team in the league.
During the pre-conference schedule, the Bucs had some early tournament success, which included a tournament title at the Country Inn & Suites Invitational at Chattanooga. ETSU finished a perfect 3-0 in the event – knocking off UNC Asheville, Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech – dropping just one set along the way. Senior Kiley Tamblyn (Torrance, Calif.) was named Tournament MVP for her stellar defensive effort, while Jamie Stancliff (Advance, N.C.) and Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas) were named to the all-tournament team.
One of the biggest highlights of the season was a thrilling five-set home victory over eventual A-Sun champion Lipscomb on the final weekend of the regular season. It was just Lipscomb’s second conference loss in over three years and ended Lipscomb’s seven match winning streak against ETSU.
ETSU, the No. 5-seed in the Atlantic Sun Championship, drew No. 4-seeded Kennesaw State in the quarterfinals. The two teams faced each other twice during the regular season with each team winning on the road. In the quarterfinal matchup, Kennesaw State got off to a quick start by winning the first two sets and looked like it would cruise to the semifinals. However, ETSU has something else in mind. The Bucs took sets three and four to force a decisive fifth set. With all of the momentum, ETSU went on to take the deciding set to pull off the improbable come from behind victory. The win meant a meeting with top-seeded Belmont in the semifinals – a team that defeated ETSU twice during the regular season.
The Bucs put up a fight in the first set, but they just could not get over the hump as Belmont earned a tough 27-25 win. The tough opening set loss motivated the Bucs as they came through with an impressive 25-18 victory in the second set to even the match. ETSU kept the momentum in the third set with a tough 25-23 victory to take a 2-1 lead. Belmont quickly regained the momentum; however, by cruising to a 25-13 win in the fourth set – forcing another deciding fifth set. After the Bucs got out to the early start, Belmont went on a timely 5-0 run to take the lead – a lead it would not relinquish. The Bruins held on to take the set 15-8, which clinched a spot in the championship match.
ETSU had many outstanding individual efforts in the A-Sun Championship, but the Buccaneer that etched her name in the record books time after time throughout the year, earned recognition following the tournament. Sophomore Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) was named to the All-Tournament Team after helping the Bucs advance to the semifinals. That was just one of many honors that Devine earned during the season. She was also named First-Team All-Atlantic Sun after pacing the Bucs in several categories. Devine was named the league’s first player of the week this season, while being named to several all-tournament teams during the year. In addition, Devine etched her name in the ETSU record books on two different occasions. With 503 kills during the season, Devine ranks second in school history for kills in a season. Meanwhile, she became the school’s all-time leader for highest kills per set total in a season with 4.16. She is on pace to break the ETSU record for most career kills, which was set by Callie Kiselich from 2005-07 with 1,420.
Those were not the only records to be added into the ETSU record book during the season. Stancliff, a Second-Team All-Atlantic Sun performer after leading the league in blocks, moved into fourth place in ETSU history for most block assists in a single season with 112. She now holds the third and fourth spots on the list as her 124 block assists last year rank third in school history.
Meanwhile, Tamblyn’s 502 digs during the season rank as the fifth most in school history. Tamblyn recorded 538 digs in 2010, which ranks as the fourth most in ETSU single season history.
The team also carved its name into the record books by earning the fourth most block assists in ETSU single season history with 415. In addition, its .307 total attack percentage against North Florida on October 8 is the highest attack percentage in school history for a four-set match. During the match, senior McKayla Barber (Columbus, Ind.) broke the school’s all-time record for highest attack percentage in a match by hitting at a .807 clip. Barber had 17 kills in just 21 attempts without a single error.
ETSU returned just five letterwinners and two starters, from a squad that advanced to its first ever trip to the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament final in 2010. During the 2010 season, the Bucs went 26-9 with a 7-3 Atlantic Sun record. The 26 wins were the most for the program since the 1978 season.
For more information on ETSU volleyball please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the volleyball link.