The Maryville College Scots made their 13th trip to the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon, as the MC fell to No. 9 Berry College in the opening round of the NCAA Atlanta Regional.
Berry College took the match by a score of 3-0, as the squads played to a 25-15, 25-19, 25-13 final. The loss snaps a 19-match win streak for Maryville, including USA South Athletic Conference Tournament play.
"Anytime you get here, there's a lot of tension and a lot of anxiety," Head Coach Kandis Schram said. "There's a lot of excitement. I think it was a good match. It didn't come out the way we'd hoped, but I'm proud of my team."
Maryville was led offensively by Dejane Hester-Taylor's six-kill effort, as the senior hit .250. Meredith Bonee neared a double-double with 13 assists, eight digs and five kills, while senior Brianne Sidner added five kills of her own.
"We took a lot of preparation," Hester-Taylor said of the week leading up to the tournament. "We were really excited for this weekend, because our seniors haven't been here. This was our first time making it this far, so we were really excited. We prepped a lot, and we worked on different shots to go up against this team."
MC's seven seniors end their careers with a 27-7 mark in their final campaign. The Scots went a perfect 17-0 against USA South opponents to win both the Western Division Regular Season title and the tournament crown.
They made the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2014.
"I think having seven seniors, its definitely a level of excitement," Sidner said. "Especially since we've never been here before. I think, one, we were really excited and happy to be able to come here, but also, I think we feel a little bit disappointed. We've put so much into this and so much time preparing. As much as we were happy to be here, we wanted a little bit better of a result."
Following the match, Schram reflected on coaching those seven seniors – Sidner, Hester-Taylor, MacKenzie Marcrum, Saidee McDaniel, Allison Botts, Kelley Wandell and Madison Wilkerson – in their final season.
"It's a great group of girls," Schram said. "I often talk about when you have seniors, they're not always the most fun to coach. Everything is the last. They made me eat my words. This has been a great group. Our motto was 'One Goal' and being genuine. They are goofy, and they are wonderful. It's been great."
Maryville – the Regionals' seventh seed – was plagued by errors in the match. MC hit just .010 as a squad with 24 attack errors. Seven of those were credited to blocks by Berry.
The Scots also had nine service errors, eight reception errors and a blocking error against the second-seeded Vikings.
"We knew they were going to be big," Schram said of the blocks. "I really expected more out of our serve. We went in, and believe it or not, practiced that a lot. We were hoping that would set things up. Missing nine serves is going to put you in a hole. I think when we were in system, we did some really great things. Berry came up with some great defense, and they just kept us off our game."
Maryville managed to hold the nationally ranked squad to just a .211 hitting effort offensively on the afternoon, but the duo of Emily Hancock and Carson VanCampen combined for 22 kills.
Hancock had a double-double with 12 kills and 11 digs for Berry College.
In the first set, the squad played back-and-forth to a 5-5 tie. Mathews, Sidner and Hester-Taylor recorded kills in that run, before the Vikings managed a 4-0 run.
That rally was spurred by a trio of Scots' errors, as only a VanCampen kill was in favor of Berry. The Vikings extended that to a 7-1 run, taking a 12-6 advantage on a Peyton Breissinger ace.
MC scored on a pair of Berry service errors, before the Vikings stretched it to a 13-3 rally late in the first, 18-8.
Bonee broke the silence with a kills, as Hester-Taylor added one of her own. Sidner and Bonee added kills down the stretch, as Berry took the first set, 25-15.
MC had eight kills in the first set, as Berry hit .250 with just four errors on 11 kills.
In the second set, Maryville was hindered by 11 attack errors. The Scots held Berry to a .029 hitting effort in the set, but couldn't find their offensive footing.
The set started 4-4, with all four of the Viking's points coming off MC miscues. Bonee, Mathews and Arin Wyttenbach posted kills in that run, before a VanCampen kill made it 12-6. Maryville rallied to a 14-10 score, before Berry added a 5-0 run.
Maryville found kills from Hester-Taylor, Sidner and Rhianna Tyldesley down the stretch, as McDaniel added a service ace.
The two squads traded points the remainder of the set, Berry taking a 25-19 victory.
In the third and final set, MC's offense came alive with nine kills and just four miscues. Maryville hit .208 for the set, but the Vikings found their biggest offensive outburst of the match with a .393 effort.
The Vikings had 14 kills to just three errors in the final set for a 25-13 victory.
Wandell, Mathews, Sidner, Hester-Taylor and Bonee had kills to make the score 14-11 halfway through the first set. Berry would score 11 of the next 13 points, however, to secure the NCAA First Round match.
Maryville College (27-7) followed Hester-Taylor's and Bonee's performances with five kills, three digs and two blocks from Sidner. Wandell added four kills, a dig and a block assists, while Mathews had three kills and eight digs.
Tyldesley and Wyttenbach added a kill each, as Wyttenbach had a pair of block assists. McDaniel had eight assists, four digs and an ace, while Watts added a team-high 10 digs and two assists. Botts also posted a dig for MC.
Berry College (27-5) was paced by Hancock's double-double of 12 kills and 11 digs. VanCampen had 10 kills, while Jordan Leitch posted 27 assists. Laura Beier had a match-high 14 digs for the Vikings.