LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. - The LaGrange volleyball team made program history Nov. 1 in the opening rounds of the 2016 USA South Tournament.
Playing in their first ever USA South tournament, the Panthers swept Huntingdon 3-0 and then upset host Covenant 3-1 to reach the semifinals. Covenant came into the match as the top seed from the West Division and the defending conference tournament champion.
The Panthers (22-13) ended an 11 match losing streak to the Scots (19-13), including a 3-0 loss on Oct. 12. Covenant took the first set 25-20 but the Panthers came storming back.
The Panthers, who had not won a set during the losing streak, reeled off three straight wins to stun the Scots. LC tied the match with a 25-21 win in the second set.
LaGrange took the pivotal third set 27-25 to go up 2-1 in the match. Trailing 25-24 and facing set point, the Panthers reeled off three straight points. Maggie Ivester tied the set at 25 with a kill. After an attack error by the Scots gave the Panthers the lead, Nachelle Roberts put down a kill to end the set.
The Panthers jumped out to a commanding 13-5 lead in the fourth set. Aided by Covenant miscues, they built a 20-12 lead. The Scots rallied to cut into the deficit to 24-20. But a ball handling error gave the Panthers the set 25-20 and the match.
Samantha James was one of three Panthers with double-doubles. James had a team-high 14 kills and 11 digs. Ivester added 13 kills and 19 digs, while Lauren Sanders had 30 assists and 11 digs. Sterling Ancrum had a team-high 20 digs.
The Panthers took a hard-fought match against Huntingdon, winning 25-21, 26-24, and 25-23. Emily Arnold had a match-high 12 kills, finishing with a .407 attack percentage. Ancrum had a match-high 20 digs.
The 22 wins are the most for the Panthers since the 2004 squad won 26.