BAYTOWN, Texas – Blinn College’s defense of the 2011 national championship ended here Saturday at the Region XIV Tournament.
Paris defeated Blinn 25-18, 25-19, 25-19 to end the Buccaneers’ season in the tournament quarterfinals. The Buccaneers, who entered the season ranked ninth in the nation, finished the season with a 25-7 record in their first season under head coach Erin Mellinger.
“I think if you’re going to lose, you want to go out fighting and they did that,” Mellinger said. “They never gave up. They battled throughout the tournament and they showed a lot of character.”
Earlier in the day, Blinn defeated Panola College 20-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-21 to keep its season alive.
Blinn went 2-2 at the regional tournament, defeating Paris 3-1 Thursday in its opener before losing to Tyler 3-0 on Friday.
The team graduates five sophomores in Molly Duge, Cara Fisher, Ashten Landry, Cassidy Melcher and Danielle Schultz. Duge and Melcher were members of the Buccaneers’ 2011 national championship team.
“For having a small sophomore class, they really did a good job,” Mellinger said. “I hate that they don’t get to go to the national tournament, but if you look at Molly and Cassidy, they played here for two years and they only lost seven games. I think that’s pretty terrific and that’s something they should certainly be proud of.”
Paris (24-11) advances to play Tyler Sunday in the tournament semifinals. The winner of that game will automatically qualify for the NJCAA National Championships and advances to play San Jacinto in the Region XIV Tournament championship game.
Against Paris, freshman outside hitter Tyanna Roy led the Buccaneers with seven kills while freshman setter Crystal Young posted team highs with 13 digs and 21 assists. Fisher had nine digs and freshman Tori Estrada added eight. Freshman middle blocker Bruna Evangelista added three blocks.
Blinn had 25 kills and 25 hitting errors in the match.
The Buccaneers committed just 13 hitting errors earlier in the day against Panola. Evangelista posted a match-high 25 kills and freshman middle blocker Emily Salter added 10. Roy recorded nine kills and Melcher added six as the Bucs hit .296 for the match.
Fisher led Blinn with 28 digs while Roy had 14 and Duge had 11.
Young dished out 52 assists, and Melcher and Salter each had three blocks.
Panola, which got 15 kills from Haley Hampton, ended its season with an 18-12 record.
While the Buccaneers fielded a small sophomore class this year, they could return as many as nine of this season’s freshmen in 2013.
“When I look at the bright side, I know we have a very solid core of really good girls and great volleyball players returning,” Mellinger said. “That’s what makes me excited for what’s ahead.”
For more information on Blinn volleyball, visit www.buccaneersports.com.