Vikings repeat as SAA Champs in five-set thriller

By Richalyn Miller for Berryvikings.com

ROME, Ga. – Katie O'Rourke had 15 kills and eight blocks as Berry College defeated Hendrix, 3-2, in the Southern Athletic Association Volleyball Championship match on Sunday. For her efforts, O'Rourke was named the tournament's most valuable player. 

In a thrilling five set match, the Vikings made a comeback in the fifth set to win it all against the Hendrix Warriors. The set scores were 25-21, 25-13, 16-25, 18-25 and 15-11.

Emily Stromberg and Anna Keappler had 10 kills apiece. Stephanie Quinn led the team with 44 out of 48 of their total assists. Freshman Katie Truluck notched a match-high 14 digs, many of the spectacular variety. Keappler and Truluck earned all-tournament honors as well (see full team below).

Katie Bruchfield notched a match-best 19 kills for Hendrix. Teammate Grace Griffin had eight blocks (four solo) for the Warriors.

Trailing 2-0, the Warriors took the third set, 25-16, and then prevailed in the fourth, 25-18. Yet despite having the momentum, it was Berry that came out strong in the final set.

The Vikings raced to a 7-2 lead after an O'Rourke kill. BC had its biggest advantage of the final set at 13-5 after O'Rourke and Kelsey Lochstampfor combined for a block. Hendrix won five of the next six points before having a service error at 14-11.

"There was never any doubt in my mind and the team's mind that we would win the match," said Berry Head Coach Mika Robinson. "In sets one, two and five we executed, but in sets three and four we didn't really play our game."

An energetic Cage Center crowd of 750 played a key role in helping the home team. From chanting to singing the fight song, the fans were like another player on the court for the Vikings.

After the match, Berry improved to 24-7 and Hendrix dropped to 20-12.

NOTES: The SAA Championship is the second straight for the Vikings. It's also the second straight sweep of the regular season and tournament titles for Berry…Unlike last season, BC is now eligible for the NCAA Championships. The team will gather on Monday morning to learn if it receives an at large bid to the tournament… Berry College, which began sponsoring intercollegiate volleyball in 2003, has not had a team make a national tournament...Hendrix was the only team to win a set against the Vikings this year. They won a total of three after taking one in a 3-1 defeat at the Cage Center on Oct. 19…Berry has not lost to an NCAA Division III opponent at home since Emory won, 3-0, on Oct. 21, 2011.

2013 SAA Volleyball All-Tournament Team

MVP Katie O'Rourke, Berry

Anna Keappler, Berry

Katie Truluck, Berry

Katie Burchfield, Hendrix

MC Rogers, Hendrix

Lexus Andrews, Millsaps

Jamie Kosman, Sewanee