Scots set to face No. 9 Berry in NCAA Tournament First Round

Scots set to face No. 9 Berry in NCAA Tournament First Round

Maryville College Volleyball learned their destination for the program's 13th NCAA Tournament bid on Monday afternoon, as the Scots will travel to Atlanta, Ga. to face Berry College.

MC earned the USA South Athletic Conference's automatic bid this weekend, as Maryville posted a 3-1 win over Averett University in the league's championship match. That victory secured their first NCAA Appearance since 2014.

Berry College finished the season ranked No. 9 in the AVCA Coaches Poll. The games will be played at No. 1 Emory University for the eight-team Regional.

"Playing Berry over at Emory, it's going to be exciting," Maryville College Assistant Volleyball Coach Peter Green said. "You know, these girls have worked really hard to be here. Our being able to win it at Averett was a big fight, so we were excited about that, as well. We're just feeling blessed to be in the tournament."

Maryville's seven seniors led the Scots to a USA South Western Division Regular Season title this year, posting a 14-0 mark.

MC's tallied a 27-6 record on the year, as they swept the conference tournament for their NCAA bid.

"It's really just a dream come true," Tournament MVP Brianne Sidner said. "We've almost joked about it in years past, and just hoping and hoping. Just to have it happen, it's like it's the perfect capstone on our senior season, for sure."

Maryville went a perfect 17-0 against USA South opponents, including in the postseason. The Scots ended the 2019 campaign on a 19-match win streak, while winning 22 of their last 23 matches.

The only loss in that stretch came to Transylvania University – the nation's 16th-ranked squad at the time.

"It's kind of just like that perfect season," Sidner said. "On our side of the conference, there's rarely been someone that's been undefeated. In our four years, it's not that common. It just all feels right. We really earned it."

Green said it's a special moment for the seven seniors.

MC's come close to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past four seasons, falling in the semifinals of the USA South Tournament the last three years. Maryville lost the championship match in 2015.

"For them, this is something they've wanted for a long time and something they've been building towards," Green said of the seniors. "Right now, it's some great leadership from them – both on the bench and on the court. Being able to go out there, step up their game and really go at it, it's been great to see."

Maryville's motto this season has been 'One Goal'. Head Coach Kandis Schram said following the championship match that bringing home that trophy was the squad's goal for the season.

Now, with the NCAA Tournament drawing near, Sidner said that goal doesn't change. She said it was more than just a trophy.

"I think it still stays the same," Sidner said. "The one goal was us first. The 'One Goal' has always here first, family first. It's having the right attitude. Having that, the goal doesn't really change. Maybe the end result does, but the goal was always to play together and leave it all out on the court."

Maryville College will rely on that, as they the NCAA Regionals are set for Nov. 15-17.

MC will face the Vikings who are 26-5 overall, while going 12-2 in the Southern Athletic Association. Berry won the SAA Tournament, sweeping each of the three matches they faced. They swept Birmingham-Southern College – at At-Large team in the NCAA Tournament – by a score of 3-0 in Sunday's championship bout.

Berry has won nine of its last 10 matches – the only loss coming to the nation's No. 1 squad, Emory.

The Vikings have hit .206 as a squad this year, while averaging 2.07 blocks and 1.96 aces per set in 31 matches.

"We're going to focus on one match at a time," Green said. "Berry is a worthy opponent, and we can't wait to step out on that court and compete with them…Berry is a strong team out of the Southern Athletic Association. They've got some great hitters, so they're going to be a little bit bigger and a little more physical. I think we're going to come out and maybe surprise them a little bit with what we do and the options that we have, as well."

On the year, Maryville has hit better than the Vikings with a .255 average. Maryville's tallied 2.68 aces and 1.37 blocks per contest in 33 total matches this season.

Times for the NCAA Tournament have not been released. Follow mcsots.com and @MCScots on social media for updates on the tournament's schedule.