Eight is Great!

The Lees-McRae College Lady Bobcats volleyball team successfully defended their Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference tournament championship for the seventh time, giving the Lady Bobcats their eighth consecutive title.

The Lady Bobcats entered the tournament as the number 2 seed and improved to 27-10 overall with a three game sweep of number one seed Mount Olive College Trojans (30-23, 30-27, 30-24). With the CVAC title, the Lady Bobcats earned an automatic berth to the Atlantic Regional of the 2005 NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship.

The Lady Bobcats defeated a feisty Limestone Saints squad, (30-23, 22-30, 30-22, 30-22) in quarterfinal action before taking on Coker College Cobras in the semifinals. Recently named Freshman of the Year Valia Petrova (Sofia, Bulgaria) dished out a match high 45 assists distributing the ball equally to all of her hitters as she has done consistently all season. Second team All-CVAC junior Amanda Huffaker (Maryville, TN) pounded the Saints with a match high 17 kills while classmate and first team All-CVAC member Lacie Smith (Knoxville, TN) added 12 kills of her own. Senior Bridget Thornton (Owings Mill, MD) led the Lady Bobcats on the defensive side of the ball with 19 digs while junior Dani Usedom (Geneva, IL) added 17 digs respectively.

A couple of hours after the victory over the Saints, the Lady Bobcats prepared to take on the Cobras picking up right where they left off. The Cobras would fight back however as the teams traded games (30-22, 26-30, 30-26, 21-30, 15-12) until the Lady Bobcats ended the Cobras season in the fifth and deciding game of the CVAC semifinal, allowing the Lady Bobcats a shot at revenge against number one seed Mount Olive, the only CVAC team to sweep the Lady Bobcats in a season series since 1999. Petrova again dished the ball to her teammates calmly and consistently allowing Huffaker and Smith to capitalize with 18 and 19 kills against the Cobras. Olivia Luce (Orlando, FL) was a force in all aspects of the game as well adding 6 kills, 3 digs and 2 solo blocks. Thornton, not wanting to end her senior season without one more championship sparked the Lady Bobcat defense with a match high 20 digs while Smith also chipped in defensively with 18 digs herself.

The Lady Bobcats had been eagerly waiting one week for this game, after losing a November 5th home game to the Trojans giving them the season series 2-0. Overcoming obstacles in the form of the Saints and Cobras the Lady Bobcats were hungry for an eighth consecutive crown and a return trip to the NCAA regionals. As seven time defending champion, every team is looking to knock you off of the top, no team more than the Trojans. With a pro Trojan crowd in attendance the Lady Bobcats focused on their goal as a team sweeping the number one seed in fashion, winning games one and three by seven and six points respectively. Anyone in attendance could sense in the air the Lady Bobcats unity, desire, and confidence within themselves and each other after the first seven points of each game, jumping out to early 5 and 6 point leads. The Lady Bobcats were again led by juniors Huffaker, Smith and Luce pounding 8, 12, and 11 kills in the CVAC final respectively while Petrova and Thornton could not have played their respective setting and defensive roles any better each adding 9 digs while Petrova was again masterful dishing 34 assists.

At the conclusion of the tournament, Smith was named as the Tournament MVP and also joined teammates Petrova and Huffaker on the All Tournament Team. The Lady Bobcats will now take their 27-10 record and their record eighth consecutive CVAC title to Lock Haven, PA to take on California, PA (33-2) in first round action of the NCAA tournament.