Emily Hancock and Carson VanCampen dominated the net Sunday afternoon just as they had all weekend to lead the Berry College volleyball team to its third conference championship in a row.
The No. 9 Vikings defeated Birmingham-Southern in straight sets on its home court in the finals of the Southern Athletic Association tournament, avenging their only two conference losses in the regular season and completing an incredible run.
Berry won all three of its tournament matches in three sets, with its championship win over the Panthers coming on set scores of 25-19, 25-19 and 25-18. The Vikings advance to the NCAA Division III Playoffs, with regional tournaments beginning Friday at eight sites.
Senior outside hitter Hancock led Berry with 15 kills in Sunday’s final, while senior middle blocker VanCampen had 12 along with four blocks and a .417 hitting percentage. Senior setter Jordan Leitch recorded 37 of Berry’s 42 assists in the match.
All three were named to the All-Tournament team, with VanCampen earning MVP honors after finishing with 37 kills for the weekend. Hancock, who was named last year’s tournament MVP, had a combined 40 kills.
Berry’s Peyton Breissinger led the team in digs with 22 while sophomore libero Laura Beier posted 11 digs in the championship a day after setting a Berry record of 33 in the Vikings’ semifinal win over Hendrix.
Birmingham-Southern’s loss snapped a 12-match winning streak for the Panthers that began with a regular-season win over Berry on Oct. 12. The Vikings’ have also defeated Birmingham-Southern for its last two conference titles.
Berry (26-5) earned a spot in the tournament finals after topping Hendrix on Saturday in which the Vikings earned a hard-fought 25-21 win in the opening set before battling to a 28-26 come-from-behind win in set two. All the momentum was in Berry’s favor in the final set, as the Vikings walked away with a 25-16 win.
Berry won its first game of the tournament on Friday, defeating Rhodes 25-20, 25-21, 25-21.
The Vikings’ will learn who they will face in the first round of the NCAA tournament Monday during the NCAA Selection Show, which begins at 12:30 p.m.