It has been quite an impressive display by local collegiate squads over the last few weeks. Here are some of the highlights:
• For the first time in school history, the University of Mobile Rams volleyball team claimed the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament title. Mobile (37-3, 14-0) set a single-season record for consecutive wins in the semifinals against Middle Georgia State and stretched it to 27 in a row by sweeping Faulkner for the title.
“Today was a great day for UM volleyball,” said head coach Jon Campbell. “The team played nearly flawless to win the semifinal match versus Middle Georgia. They followed the game plan, won quickly and earned some much needed rest and focus time to prepare for the finals. This has been a record-breaking season, and we are so proud of them for extending it into the national tournament.”
This was the first tournament title for the Rams since joining the SSAC and their first overall since winning the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament in 2009. Hannah Wentland, a senior who played at Cottage Hill Christian in Mobile, led the tournament in kills and earned Most Valuable Players honors. She was joined on the all-tournament team with senior Annie Kate Hudson and junior Jocelyn Mahayag.
Prior to the start of the SSAC tournament, several Rams were honored. Sophomore Mirella Gatterdam was Player of the Year after leading the conference in kills while coming in second in hitting percentage. Hudson was selected as Setter of the Year after closing out the regular season by being the NAIA Setter of the Week.
First Team all-conference was Gatterdam, Wentland, Hudson, Mahayag and Alex Karcher. On the Second Team were Samantha Nichols and Daphne’s Carley Hamric. Hamric was also on the all-freshman squad.
• The University of Mobile men’s soccer squad claimed its first SSAC tournament title since 2010 by defeating the nation’s top-ranked team. The Rams (13-3-2) routed William Carey 5-1, avenging its loss in the regular season finale.
“An incredible performance from the guys. They’re a special group,” said head coach Daniel Whelan. “The togetherness and spirit in this group is unique. We are happy to be in the hat for the national tournament.”
Sam White recorded five goals and added three assists to earn Tournament Most Valuable Player honors. He was on the all-tournament roster with Guilherme Altoe, Lamine Conte, Newton Henry and Victor Pimentel.
Altoe was honored for his play in the regular season with the Gold Gloves award. On the First Team All-SSAC with him were Conte, Paul Ledsham and Nathaniel Bedai. The Second Team list had White, Henry and Jordan Sinclair. Cameron Cranton, who played at Baker, was on the all-freshman team with Victor Pimentel.
• The women’s soccer team at UM lost in the semifinals of the SSAC tournament to drop to 14-4. They still advance to the NAIA Playoffs, where they serve as host at the Orange Beach SportsPlex.
At the end of the regular season, senior Cayla Hebert was named the NAIA National Offensive Player of the Week after scoring three goals in a 4-1 victory over then top-ranked William Carey. A third-team All-American last year, she is listed nationally in the Top 50 in five different categories.
Joining her on the SSAC first-team all-conference club was Colleen Kennedy. On the second team were Noemi Mallet, Nikole Cruz, Savannah Rommel, Heidi Giles and Antonia Bauer. On the all-freshman list were Bauer and Tanja Hymoeller.
• After winning its fifth straight Sun Belt Conference tournament title, the USA women’s soccer team lost in the opening round of the NCAA playoffs. The Jaguars fell to Florida 3-1, with junior Audrey Duren scoring her first career goal. USA ends the year with a 14-6-1 record.
• USA junior cross-country runner Laura Labuschaigne ran her best 5-kilometer race of the fall to win the 2017 SBC Cross Country individual title. With a time of 17 minutes and 35.1 seconds, she becomes the first USA women’s cross-country runner to win a league title in 20 years.
Carolien Millenaar and Nicole Van Der Merwe earned third-team all-Sun Belt honors with their top 15 finishes, coming in 11th and 12th, respectively.
On the men’s side, freshmen Warno Potgieter and Migel Strydom finished 12th and 13th, respectively, to pick up third-team honors.
• Because they are still in the transitional period of joining the NCAA, the volleyball team at Spring Hill College could not advance past the regular season. Their opponents are happy about that, as they closed out their Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference campaign by sweeping Tuskegee.
Appropriately, the final point of the match came off a block by SHC middle hitter Katelyn Bobinger from Mobile, who was the lone senior on the Badger roster this year. She led the Badgers with six kills and an ace while sophomore setter Emmarose Neibert handed out 12 assists. Junior Randi De’Armitt claimed 17 digs with 10 receptions. SHC finished the season with a 27-5 mark overall and a perfect 18-0 record in the SIAC.
• Two University of South Alabama football players were honored by the Sun Belt Conference at the Jaguars’ 24-19 win over Arkansas State. Cole Garvin was voted the league’s Offensive Player of the Week while Bull Barge claimed Defensive Play-of-the-Week honors.
Garvin — making his first start since USA defeated Troy — responded by completing 25 of 45 attempts for 343 yards and a pair of second-half scores. Barge collected a game-high-tying 13 stops including one for a loss, while also playing a part in a turnover that helped South protect a five-point advantage late in the game.
• The SIAC recognized Spring Hill College basketball players Walter Massey and Elise Reilly to its 2017 preseason all-conference team. Massey, a 6-foot-5 senior guard/forward from Eight Mile, averaged 13.1 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per night in 2016-17. Reilly, a 5-foot-7 sophomore guard, was the 2016-17 SIAC Freshman of Year and set the Badgers’ record for made three-point baskets in a season with 72 buckets.
• The Sun Belt Conference has picked USA senior center Chyna Ellis to its preseason all-conference first-team and senior guard Genesis Perrymond to the third team. Last season, Ellis set the single-season record for blocks with 93, reached the top spot in program history in blocks 213 and was the Jags’ leading scorer (10.5 per game) and rebounder (8 per game). Perrymond averaged 6.9 ppg, and led the team with 89 assists and 47 steals.
(Photo | University of Mobile) University of Mobile senior Hannah Wentland (20), who played her high school volleyball at Cottage Hill Christian, earned MVP honors recently as the Rams won the SSAC tournament title.